Donald J. Trump must have some laid off Aunt Jemima/Uncle Ben's-brand marketers working on his faux-campaign to attract Black voters.

One year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic caught many Americans off-guard, forcing changes that no one could have anticipated.

With more than 500,000 in the U.S. dead, and about 28.5 million infected, most remain skittish despite medical science advances that now include three government-approved coronavirus vaccines.

Whether directly affected or not, many agree that pre-pandemic norms are probably forever lost. A multitude won’t soon, if ever, forget the toll exacted by the coronavirus.

A Doctor in Training, Under Pressure

“At the time COVID hit, I was a second-year medical student at University of Medicine and Health Science in St. Kitts. I was trying to schedule my board exams and living with my uncle and grandmother in South Florida,” stated Eboni Peoples, an American Medical Student Association Reproductive Justice Scholarship winner.

“One day early in the pandemic, my grandmother’s blood pressure shot up to over 200. As a med student, my family was looking to me for answers, and the danger of the situation really hit me,” Peoples related. “I was really worried about her risk of a stroke and wanted her to get treatment but didn’t want to scare my uncle or grandmother. Fortunately, we were able to schedule a telehealth appointment, and she was OK, but the experience taught me how we really need to look out for our elderly population.”

Sonya Schwartz, the founder of Her Norm, said that she’s still paranoid and exercises extreme caution. She has also learned to prioritize her health.

“I have been very busy with work pre-pandemic and wasn’t concerned about my health. Now, I make sure to live healthily,” Schwartz stated. “I am still working, but I ensure to include an exercise routine in my daily schedule, even if for a short time only.  Also, because of the pandemic, I became more prepared. I anticipate everything making me always prepare for a plan B.”

The entrepreneur also offered that she appreciates the value of money and has developed a habit of practical spending.

“These things have helped improve me as a person, so I realized that the pandemic did not bring only negative things, but it also made us realize the importance of the things we often neglect,” Schwartz noted.

On March 11, 2020, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization director-general, announced that he was alarmed over the virus’s spread and declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Two days later and following more than two months of denials and misinformation, then-President Donald Trump declared a national emergency and announced a travel ban on non-U.S. citizens journeying from Europe.
Businesses, places of worship, and professional and collegiate sports leagues ground to a halt.

Like most of the world, the U.S. faced chaos.

One year later, the pandemic remains, and the damage – both direct and collateral – is palpable.

Working from Home Despite Breathing Problems

“At the start of COVID, I enjoyed being a loner, spending a lot of time alone and doing things by myself. I took family time for granted because my family has always been easily accessible,” related Sheri Scott, Pillow Talk Uplift and Restore CEO.

“Time with friends was taken for granted as well, and through forced isolation, I realized how wrong I was,” Scott determined.

“I live alone, and the only constant contact with others was going to work every day. Because of COVID, we now work from home with a day or two a week spent in the office as a general rule, but I have breathing issues, so I am on a 100 percent work-from-home schedule.

“Having this schedule forced me to look at my views and to reevaluate how I view myself. I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies, which worked for me until I was forced to become a full-time introvert.

“It has caused a bit of depression. I now realize that being alone all of the time is not as great as I originally thought, and the interactions with co-workers were enough to keep me from total isolation. I learned I need people much more than I knew.”

Isolation, Depression

Jordan Robinson of the Better Body Blog recognizes the long road still ahead. Robinson proposed that he is encouraged by how many have banded together during the crisis.

“In lieu of official government response or effective countermeasures, I am seeing a growing trend of individuals forming neighborhood and community groups to help each other cope with the many challenges of our environment,” Robinson submitted. “As with so many others, my life was dramatically altered when I became ill with COVID symptoms. While many of these symptoms have subsided over the last year, I still experience fatigue daily, and, like most others in the surviving population, I am living almost my entire life indoors.

“If we do not come together in our local communities to support and take care of each other, no one else will,” he said.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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