Even though we've managed to move forward during the past year and adapt to a new normal, the memory of that dreadful moment of realization will always be with us. Please share your recollections of what that experience was like for you, and we may share your memories in this article.
Rhonda Rodriguez: "I was an essential worker that worked for the United States Postal Service. For about two months when the pandemic first started, I was the only person traveling to and from work on the express bus. I traveled every day (sometimes 6 days a week) from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back. Hardly anyone was coming into the post office. So many businesses were closed and they were having their mail forwarded to other places. It was more than 6 or 7 months before some started opening up again. I retired in October of 2020. Things were still not back to normal yet."
Nick Vollaro: "I realized something was really wrong when my student teaching experience was put on pause. They told us to stop going until after our "extended spring break" was over after what we thought was only going to be two weeks. I never got to see my students in person again after that day in early March 2020, as myself and my students finished the school year virtually. Certainly not a typical student teaching experience. Now one year later, I am a first-year teacher teaching hybrid ... masks, 6-feet, and zoom."
Anonymous: "When Governor Murphy put in the executive order that guests were no longer able to visit loved ones in long term care facilities. I would be FaceTiming my Mother until her death a month later."
Maria Bober: "March, Friday the 13th I dragged my then fiancé, Maciej, down to Brooklyn City Hall to get our Marriage License just before the Courts closed. April 4th we were wed in the middle of the street, in a New York minute."
Shirlyn Diego: "I realized COVID-19 was going to change everything when I was laid off from my job as a Program Supervisor that catered to Elementary School students (K-5) in Queens, New York. The task of working from home and dealing with my students that didn't understand why we couldn't have "afterschool fun" in person was scary and very uncertain. I left my office on March 13, 2020. I worked remotely from home until June 25, 2020. The very next day I received a phone call that I was laid off due to low funding. I have been out of work since then. I never in my wildest dreams would ever think that I would be unemployed and losing the job that I love so much. I have been an educator for over 30 years. Not only did it upset my parents, students, and staff, but it affected me tremendously. I hope to go back and work with an organization that is eager to have me so that I can continue to encourage young minds so that they can know and understand that even through struggles, there is a light at the end of the tunnel."
Anonymous: "I realize COVID-19 was going to change everything when we went on lockdown for the first three months. We were so bored at home that we took a ride to Schmackeray's to get cookies normally would take an hour and a half and we got there in 35 minutes there was no traffic in Times Square and no people in Times Square."
Allison Gutner: "I realized that life as we know it was going to change, when I was returning from a vacation in Aruba at the end of February. Friends had already warned me before I came home, to stock up on food and supplies for at least a couple of weeks. Who knew that one year alter we would all be fighting COVID-19? Two weeks later, my entire family moved to our vacation home in the Berkshires. Did I really think that I would be there for so many months and not return to my home on Long Island? The biggest effect that COVID has had on my life though is the loss of my Mother due to COVID. My daughter was due to give birth in late June but Mom never got to meet her first grandson. Instead we buried Mom on her 90th birthday with only four of the family allowed at the cemetery. I was unable to be with Mom or comfort her in her last days. So yes, COVID-19 charged everything."
Anonymous: "I realized COVID-19 was going to change everything when they closed the schools down in the NYC school system and we were told that we had to prepare to work from home. Then, not too long after that everything was closed down in NYC except for essential businesses and hospitals. NYC began to look like a ghost town as was many other busy cities around our country. People were told to stay inside their homes except to go for essential items. Last March of 2020 is when the Pandemic changed our everyday routines. People working from home, shopping from home and students of all ages learning remotely from home. Then all over our country schools and businesses were shutting their doors. It seems that forever we will be required to wear masks and socially distance from those who we do not know."
Michele Adams: "When I flew back home on February 26, 2020, from Japan the world seemed to have changed. When we landed in Newark we were told to remain seated and two CDC officers in full PPE and two border patrol officers boarded our plane and asked for four people by name to follow them since they didn't declare they had been in China."
Anonymous: "Late December 2019, I experienced something I had never expected before. I didn't know that I had the virus, but I felt like I was going to die."
R. Morgan: "I realized our world had changed, would change, is changed when our learning institutions had to close down... I've only learned about a real-world pandemic through education so to actually live through one is very scary and I feel empathy for all history."
Tony Gary: "March 9, 2020, was my last trip out of Hoboken on my bi-weekly visits to my little 2-year-old nephew in Queens. As always we had a great day running around Astoria; taking him to the park, enjoying snacks, and playing all day. Upon returning home... I realized the COVID-19 issue was getting worse. On March 16 here in Hoboken, the mayor shut everything down. This is when I realized my life going forward had changed."
Christine Vosilla: "I was walking along Broadway and 34th Street at noon on Monday, March 16, 2020, and there was only one other person on the square. That was a first for me, after being in New York City for over 50 years. It was a very sad day."
Antonella Di Stefano: "When I got on the one train heading to Penn Station at 5:30 pm on March 13 and I got a seat and didn't have to stand. Then got on my LIRR train home and also got a seat."
Robert Flannigan: "When I was watching an NBA game on primetime TV and the official came out on the court and stopped the game because some of the other team's players had tested positive."
Erica Kika Parra: "I realized COVID-19 was going to change everything when I started doing virtual live shows, workshops, and classes. Technology has played an important role during these COVID times, but I really do miss live shows with an actual audience."
Edward Zelazny: "I realized it was a very serious situation when my mother passed of the virus in a New Jersey nursing home... That's when it hit me that no one knew much about this virus and we are in for some bad times and uncharted waters."
Waseem Manzoor: "So I decided to go to Northwell's emergency room. I was wearing a mask and everyone in my neighborhood was giving me a strange look. Finally, after a four-hour wait, the doctor diagnosed that I had symptoms of COVID, but I did not fall in the category to do the test. They advised me to stay away from family members for 14 days. I came and home told my family to stay away because I had COVID. My family's reaction was extraordinarily careful which made me cry. I was feeling helpless and lonely. When I remember those 14 days it shakes my whole body. It was a nightmare full of sorrow and bad dreams."
Shena Babb: "I realized the change when my 1.5-hour drive was taking less than an hour."
Anonymous: "My parents were on a cruise ship in New Jersey that had 'sick passengers'... A week later they were notified that they all had the flu... I had told my parents that was a lie and made them quarantine for 14 days before they could babysit my daughter... That day in my high school I started to notice the adults and students wearing masks and taking an abundance of caution. That day will stick in my head last February as the day I realized that COVID would change everything."
Auria Adams: "The moment that COVID-19 became real was when I got sick. I was working for NYC Transit as a train operator... I quickly called my crew assignment center and explained the situation. They told me to self-quarantine and someone would be contacting me for contact tracing. I remember a fear coming over me as the call ended. I remember looking at my husband and just thinking did I just infect my whole family?... I would like to say that that was the end of it I recovered and I didn't infect anyone, but that didn't happen. On April 17, 2020, my dad, 79, started coughing... Two days later I drove my dad to Orange Regional Medical Center and he was quickly admitted. That was the last time I was able to touch my father. He passed away on April 24 and now I live with that guilt that because of me he is not here."
Natasha Tibball: "I began to realize this virus is no longer going to be something happening in other countries and is about to take hold here in the United States when all of the professional sports league seasons began falling like dominoes. I know there's a substantial amount of revenue tied to those events and if those cancelations were deemed necessary, something more serious than I originally thought was happening."
Brian: "I realized COVID would change us all when we heard about how fast people were getting infected."
Francine Paczkowski: "It didn't hit us that life was about to change again until we got to Orlando International Airport. Security lines were long like days after 9/11 long. I'd know. Ironically, my husband and I were on vacation in Walt Disney World on 9/11 and were there to witness the lockdown and later the implements of new boarding rules at the airport. It felt like 9/11 all over again and it was while sitting in the airport waiting for my flight that I'd realized COVID was going to change everything just as 9/11 did."
Anonymous: "After recovering from COVID weeks later I decided it was time to venture out and go to the supermarket. For me it was surreal. There were only a handful of shoppers all wearing masks following the arrows in the aisles. The arrows told us which way to enter each aisle so no one would cross each other leaving. There were spacers on the floor which reminded you to social distance. When checking out, you had to wait to be called to an empty register with a large plexiglass barricade in front. Seeing this for the first time actually brought tears to my eyes. I felt like I was in a sci-fi movie."
Susan Moyer: "Officially for me, the day that I realized Covid-19 was going to change everything was March 16th 2020. This was the last day that I was out in public. My husband and I had been watching all the news coverage on the Covid virus, but as with past viruses we had heard about, we thought that it was not going to affect us. How very wrong we were. I had gone to the grocery store a few days prior and I was in total disbelief to see the shelves almost bare. I could not find one box of pasta, the meats were all but gone, could not find soap, cleaning supplies were sparse and all that was left of paper products was one obscure box of kleenex. We would diligently watch the news on a daily basis in total disbelief of what we were watching. The number of covid cases climbing and the death toll rising. People being hauled off to hospitals being placed on ventilators with no family members allowed to be with them. It was terrifying and we made the decision then that we would stay within the confines of our home in hopes of remaining safe for there was a big scary invisible monster lurking outside of our four walls, one that could kill us. We did not want to die and especially not alone. I began researching the 1918 Pandemic and although times were different, the similarities were frightening. My husband and I have stayed covid free but at a great price. Not seeing my family and friends has been emotionally and mentally trying. As the first anniversary of lockdown approaches, I think of all the families who have lost loved ones. Over 500,000 souls have been lost and millions have been stricken. So I am grateful that we are still safe. I received my second Covid vaccine this week and on both occasions of getting the vaccine, I had tears in my eyes from both relief and hope that sometime in the near future this shall all be over."
Jayson Holley: "One of my friends who was a party promoter passed away in January of 2020 without any notice of bad health. In February, when people at work were dropping like flies taking their sick days I knew it was turning serious. I was working 2 jobs, 7 days a week and about to fulfill a new contractual agreement with my other employer which is 3rd party transportation work then got notice from one of my employers they wanted to downsize because of health concerns. While working my other job in Lower East Side, I seen the streets turn barren. Supermarket, check cashing places and banks started forming lines outside and the lines kept getting longer and supplies were in scarcity. Places were shuttered and for the first time ever it took 30 minutes to drive from Eastern Queens to Manhattan with no traffic jams. Eeriness that you could see and sense in the air to stay inside and take extra safety precautions when going outside for short periods of time."
Allison Weiner: "On March 13th, I was working at a local hotel 20 minutes near my home when we found out that the CDC declared a COVID-19 a global pandemic and the entire country, including where I worked to shut down. I then heard many stories of people waiting hours to get into the store and stock up on all essential items people needed and being sold out after minutes. At the end of that day, I found out I would be temporarily laid off from the job which then later became permanent. Not only this pandemic was a global health and safety crisis, but it became an economic crisis for many local businesses."
Anonymous: "I work in midtown and my job set-up an account so that people could take Ubers to work as an alternative to public transportation. I realized things were getting bad when an Uber driver came to pick me up, but then refused to drive me from Jersey City to my office on 6th Avenue. He drove away, without me. This happened on multiple occasions after, but the first time was jarring and completely unexpected, especially since it's right over the Hudson."
Deborah Gatti: "In March 14th, 2020 when our first grandchild was born and we could not go to the hospital. No one was allowed in. If our son left our DIL he would not have been allowed back in. It was terrible. Here is the incredible life event and we could not be with our children. We knew them everything was different."
Avi Shimshon: "The moment I realized that everything was about to change was the week of March 9, 2020, when I brought my child to pre-k. She was one of the only children still there. The next week, the school closed. As a single mother, I ended up having to choose between my job and my family's health; I never regretted choosing the latter."
Tanya Duppree: "We thought she was going to be fine. My mother went into Spring Creek Rehabilitation Center on March 3, 2020, after leaving Downstate Medical hospital. She was supposed to be there for only 2 weeks. Then Cuomo banned everyone from entering the facility. For someone who was visiting their mother every day this was a nightmare to me. I was only able to see her on FaceTime and you could see in her face she was getting worse; even speaking to her on the phone she could barely speak. Then things took a turn for the worse. On April 12 she was rushed to New York Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan which i was so lucky to ride with her in the ambulance. Who knew that this was the end. The doctors told my siblings and I on April 14th it was time to come up and say goodbye. Her situation was to bad to save her. She already had ailments of heart disease and kidney failure. When she arrived at the hospital she was tested and had tested positive for COVID. We said our goodbyes and she was able to hear us. Then that evening she was moved to hospice. The next day we were able again to say goodbye. But this time she was on dopamine and morphine and she looked like she was sleeping. We talked to her for a while. My sister and I had to put on the protective gear before we entered the room. It was scary but worth it. After that, we got into the Uber and 15 minutes later we received a call from the nurse saying she passed away. She waited for us to say goodbye. We told her that she was the greatest mother in the world and we would see her again because as Jehovah's Witnesses we believe in the resurrection. My 3 brothers, 1 sister, and myself lost an icon. My life will never ever be the same. I lived with mommy my entire life. (49 years).We lost our dad 38 years ago. I'm so happy that she was with us for 87 years. We miss you Sallie M. Dupree. Our forever QUEEN."
Kevin F.: "March 13, many were called before their shifts to not come in, those who came in were let off early, walking to a local bar you hear everyone in the city calling loved ones that they're coming home early and they've been let off. March 13 I'll never forget the endless faces walking through the city streets stricken with such a quiet fear of the unknown to come."
David R.: "My mom is from Madrid, Spain and I like seeing live streaming of the city. So, the day after Madrid shut down I went to my live streams and the city was dead."
Sandra Mark: "My life changed by COVID when my precautions of separate rooms and kitchen utensils from my husband was not enough to not get the virus after he did not know he brought it home. I felt terrible and scared. I thought I was going to die. Nothing else mattered."
Lisa R.: "I remember being home and hearing nothing but sirens every few minutes. My anxiety level was on high. That's when I realized everything was changing."
Jewels V.: "The true realization was seeing the fear in the eyes of the man I have loved for over 20 years when he was diagnosed. Short of breath, he was afraid of being hospitalized. Still breaks my heart to think of it."
Anonymous: "We were in the supermarket we also noticed that there was no toilet paper, no bleach, and very little meat, bread, and other basic food items. I think that is when it became a little scary."
Anthony Payero: "I vividly remember walking to the subway station at 50th Street and seeing empty platforms on both sides of the station. Times Square was deserted and I could count how many cars were near me during rush hour. Very eerie."
Jane Marcinkiewicz: "When I saw funeral parlors next to where I live back in April 2020 selling caskets for only $30, I knew that any schooling our children miss learning is not as important as health and surviving this pandemic."
Frank Dattolo: "My world changed when everyone wore masks. I am a person who is Deaf, uses ASL and rely on lip-reading to have access to information. When Covid hit, the communication was cut off from me and the members of the Deaf community. I retorted to using technology to communicate by using different apps. Some people took some risks to pull their masks down to allow me to lip-read. I touched me by their appreciative efforts. Thank you to those who are incredibly patient to navigate with us."
Anonymous: "When 24/7 subway service ended. 24-hour subway service is I'd say the main reason NYC is called the city that never sleeps. When that ended, it really seemed like the city was asleep at night."
Evelyn Ortiz: "I boarded the train and went to visit my father at the nursing home on the West Side of Manhattan. I saw the looks on the faces of the staff as I boarded the crowded elevator. They held papers in their hands. They were to immediately fill them out regarding their medical histories and whether anyone felt sick. I had a feeling that would be the last time I would get to hug my father for a long time, but I never imagined what was to come. I can still remember his sad face as the elevator doors closed and we yelled out 'I love you' to each other. As I exited the nursing home, someone taped a note to the entrance door, 'No Visitations.'"
Sheila Suaeez: "I gave birth September 25. I realized COVID changed everything when I had to go find out the gender of my baby on my own because my baby's father couldn't come into the doctor's office with me. In fact, he couldn't come in to any of my appointments."
Amy Adoniz: "On my birthday, March 5, 2020, my parents invited me to dinner at Carmine's in Times Square. I couldn't believe how scarce the crowd was. Five days later my 70% travel job held a conference call and we were told we'd work from home for the time being. It set in, that virus in Italy was now here. I then realized I'd never sit in a crowded restaurant ever again. I then lost my grandmother and countless friends. In five days I knew life as I knew it would never be the same."
Cathy Keegan: "My husband was in Hackensack Hospital undergoing very strong chemotherapy for a bone marrow transplant and I was able to stay 24 hours with him. Then on Match 10 I was told I could not stay overnight any longer. So I would leave around 7 p.m. and return in the morning around 10 a.m. On Friday, March 13 when I returned to the hospital I was told everything was shut down and I could not enter the hospital any longer to visit my husband. It was a very stressful time for my husband, my children and myself. Thank god he is home now but we still can't go out and be around people because of his condition."
Anonymous: "Six weeks prior to our country shut down we welcomed our second boy. What should have been one of the brightest and special moments in our lives quickly became one of the darkest years of my life. The pandemic had heightened my already stressful PPD. I worried every day my husband would leave for work. Would he bring it home, was he safe? I watched my toddler with sadness in his eyes asking why we can't go see Grandma. Every time I watched him put a mask on, it broke me down even more."
Joyce Guerrero: "I realized COVID-19 was going to change everything when all I heard were ambulances every day and every night passing through. I knew when I had lost family members and friends to COVID-19. Never to see or hear from them again with no funeral to be held for them. The shakes I would get feeling the sense of everyone who passed away from COVID-19; the loneliness upon their passing without any of their family by their sides. The deceased still in body bags in freezer trucks. Some with no identification on them. Still haunts me to this day."
Anonymous: "No children laughing to and from school. Church was closed, no chimes every day. Just the eerie sounds of silence, but for the constant sound of ambulances. I prayed with all my might for the souls of whom they were attending to."
Ruthie Tamayo: "A day or so after NYC went into lockdown, I was home with my four kids and it was so stressful. The house was insanely loud. I went into the bathroom and just cried my eyes out because of the stress and then I thought, 'what was the world coming to?' We had no idea what was happening. But I wiped my tears, sucked it up like a lot of moms would, and took care of my family. Took it day by day in this completely new world."
Jodee MacDonald: "When my son, a senior in high school, couldn't take his road test because the DMV closed the same day as his high school and he would never walk back into that high school again. He went on to graduate on the football field in a box. Me and his sibling couldn't attend."
Anonymous: "When I saw, not one, but four cold storage trailers outside the back exit of my hospital. The back exit is a shortcut for me to reach my apartment. I can't get the images out of my head. A lot of patients came in horrible shape, almost dead but some of them came needing just a little more oxygen, and then being told call the family and now they are just a body, waiting for the funeral home to get picked up. Yes COVID has changed us health care professionals for life."
Anonymous: "I'm a Social Worker in an Emergency Department. In early March 2020, an elderly gentleman came in with his wife and he was struggling to breathe. His wife had no symptoms and the team was confident he had bacterial pneumonia so they were not immediately isolated. He was rushed to the critical side of our Emergency Department and I held his wife while a team of doctors and nurses worked to keep him alive. At the time it took many hours for a COVID test to result. The next day I received the email that I had been exposed to COVID. Thankfully I remained healthy, but from that moment on I knew everything would be different."
Carey Jones: "The news really hit home when they told me that I would be teaching remotely. 'Say what?!' I did not know how to even begin a Zoom meeting."
Anonymous: "My realization truly set in the first day my husband came back from work and said not to get near him until he put all his clothes in a bag and had showered because that was our new protocol to 'stay on the safe side' and be sure that he didn't come in contact with someone he tested positive. The fear I feel for every day that he goes out to work still bothers me to this very day."
Karim Woolfolk: "It was March 18 2020, two days after we closed that I woke up freezing cold with a massive headache like I'd never experienced in my life. Days later I'd suffer from loss of smell, taste, and fatigue. Six weeks later, I'd finally be able to take a single flight of stairs without needing to rest. I was an athlete teaching up to 20 classes per week at my gym in Riverdale, the Bronx. A gym I gave heart and soul to for five years. It was three months after being furloughed I saw the giant flatbed removing all the equipment. It was six months later we were all permanently let go. It was in that moment I and do many others knew our careers in fitness had been changed forever."
Stephanie Blank: "Being a Black Baptist, the homegoing service for a loved one plays a large part in our lives. Saying goodbye to a loved one in the sanctuary or funeral home, being shoulder to shoulder, holding each other up - surrounded by friends and family. Holding a Repast after the funeral, sharing memories. That's a part of how we say goodbye. That's a part of letting those loved ones' who've suffered that loss in their families know, they are not alone. Imagine having to choose which 25 people can come and say goodbye to your loved one. Imagine, still, not being able to hold one another. Imagine not being able to hear 'it will be alright' because you can't be that close. That's what COVID-19 took away."
Lee Kennedy: "Last March 2020 I saw a live comedy show at The State Theater in NJ. The next week all shows were canceled. I said to myself there is no way the NYC St Patrick's Day Parade is gonna be canceled, and voila it was. That's the moment I realized this is serious and life is rapidly changing fast. every day we were told new info and as confusing as it was. Here we are one year later and learning how to basically live all over for the first time."
Tom Schlapa: "It was my birthday on the day I was born, Friday, 13 March. My friend took me out for my 50th birthday and it was being said that the place was closing that weekend. 13 takes my wife after that short length of marriage. 13 was supposed to be our lucky year & it turned out to be the year I raise my kids alone and that Friday the 13th what is the cut off date for the world."
Anonymous: "I realized it when my son was in ICU for about five days with the so-called flu the first week of January. New Year's Eve he wasn't home. He had a huge face mask supplying him oxygen and the fear in his eyes saying 'mom I can't breathe' was heartwrenching."
Jeanne Ellis: "I knew the world would be forever changed when our family celebrated my mom's 102nd birthday via Zoom last March. So very different from our traditional in-person gathering. Since then all of our milestones have been virtual. The good news is we are looking forward to my mom's 103rd birthday on March 30.
Jimmy Tomredle: "Last year I was a freshman in high school. On Friday, March 13, 2020, it was the end of the day and my principal came on the loudspeaker and said please take everything home, take everything out of your personal lockers and gym lockers in case of a school closure. My district closed on March 14 and everyone in the district had to shift to remote learning. Friday, March 13, 2020 was the day covid changed everything. I had a feeling we wouldn't be back in school for the remainder of the year. I just wanted to finish my freshman year in school with all my friends."
Susan Leavitt: "I saw on ABC News that one of my doctors, Dr. Arnold Weg, was fighting for his life and about to be put on a ventilator. Now it wasn't just some news story."
Kelly Chapin: "March 12-13. First, the Broadway shutdown. Broadway almost never goes dark. I was just sitting in the Broadhurst Theater 5 days earlier, seeing Jagged Little Pill the Musical. Then the following day the schools shut down. A few days after that, my first quarantine began."
Jennifer Albaladejo: "As an RN at Hackensack University Medical Center, I was driving into work from Manalapan, NJ at 0600 March, 2020. It quickly hit me that life had changed as we knew it when I saw that I was only one of a very few number of cars on the entire New Jersey Turnpike. When I got to the toll booths, the sign said that there were no toll collectors working at any of the booths. Any car that was on the highway with me flew past me as if we were driving on the Autobahn. It was just like a scene out of The Walking Dead. Incredibly surreal."
Barbara Hughes: "I'm a part time college professor at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. We were scheduled to close for a week for Spring Break in Saturday, March 14. I was planning to give my students an exam before the break. But on Tuesday, March 10, Rutgers began preparation & faculty training for remote instruction. The school began shutting down every class; no exams were to be given & all students had to immediately evacuate the campus & move out of the dorms. We never went backnto on-campus instruction; after Spring Break we transitioned to complete remote instruction for the remainder of the semester. This made me realize that Covid-19 changed everything."
Ben Leung: "It was almost a year ago in March of 2020 that my sons hard to start learning remotely from home for school. A few days later my company had informed all employees to start working from home for a few days. That few days became weeks and months. Towards the end my company had informed us that we will be working from home until further noticed. Never would I have imagine that something out of a movie had become a reality. That movie was called Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman. I will always remember what Mayor DeBlasio said last year. This pandemic will affect and change our lives. True to the word, it has."
Phyllis Anders: "I was ill with the Flu and a very bad cough in December, 2019 and again in February, 2020 along with Pink Eye, I was treated with Antibiotics and recovered, shortly after I kept seeing the news reports of the Cruise ships and Italy and around the World and then a State of Emergency was declared in NJ, just then it hit me, could I have had Covid? I remember thinking this looks bad, but as a retired Nurse I tried to stay calm, saying to my family, we will be ok as long as we follow the protocols, masks, distancing, washing hands etc. and here we are a year later, still following the protocols and hoping one day soon life will get back to some kind of normal for all of us."
Michael Verdino: "We have 1 child, who had started kindergarten in fall of 2019. When his school shut down in mid-march 2020, in Nassau County, we were at a loss to understand what would be next for the rest of his first year in school But when I saw him, 6 years old, on zoom, and trying to type his assignment on a tablet, it really hit me on what a lasting impact this may have on our children. Education had changed forever."
Ruth Eisen: "I had just started a temp job on March 6, 2020 as a Census Enumerator in Ocean and Monmouth Counties and they closed down the office on March 18. We were told that after the quarantine, we would be back at work and they would pay us for 20 hours a week in the meantime, about 2-3 weeks. The weeks kept coming and they cut the hours, but no sign of us returning. Finally, my last day of pay was May 4, 2020 and I filed for unemployment. Once I filed for unemployment, I realized that my life was to change. As it was, my father passed away a few months before the pandemic began (I live with my parents), so already I was getting used to him not being there, my mom being a widow after 58 years of marriage and not having to care for him. Being quarantined without my dad home with us was hard. After a death, normally, you visit with family and friends to lessen the loneliness and sorrow, but we could not. Financially, I have done better with unemployment andstimulus payments than I had with pay since I lost my Amazon job in 2016. We now never eat out for lunch, other than to go to my sister's house for a socially distanced picnic in her backyard. We now do takeout from time to time, but mostly cook. We almost do no in-person shopping-it is all on-line, drive-thru, curbside pickup or delivery. As a result, I do not have much fitted clothing and I have not had a haircut or worn any makeup for about 15 months. I have not seen friends for about 13 months. My community pool was closed for a long time-I had to go to a public outdoor pool. I hike a lot more since swimming is mostly out and did some kayaking over the summer as well. I also went to a few drive-in movies (something that I haven't done since childhood) and went to a couple of zoos (something that I haven't done for about 15 years). I spend more time on the internet and for several months I did a lot of jigsaw puzzles. I have recently been updating my Pinterest boards alot and bought an air fryer."
Karina Martinez: "I realized COVID-19 was going to change everything once the number of positive tests were going up high and all the shut downs were happening. That's when things started changing from staying at home and working from home so everyone can stay safe and stop the spread. Afterwards, restaurants, movie theatre's, retail and more were closed. The way life is now has become where there is less crowds, capacity and limitations. I believe people have become more hygienic and are cautious about their surroundings even now with having to wear a mask. Wearing a mask has changed everyone's lives in order to protect themselves from COVID. No one ever thought it would come to this in 2020 and onto 2021, therefore leading us to a world of having to protect ourselves from a contagious virus that was dominating the entire nation. Overall, the future awaits as to how the nation will be after COVID has diminished upon all of us."
LuAnn Miroddi: "On March 15, 2020 we sat down to reschedule my daugther's wedding reception, that we had planned for for over a year. The week prior to that many many guests started turning their "yes" responses to "No" because of the Covid. That's the day I realized life would never be the same. My daughter's wedding reception is yet to take place. We have rescheduled it now 5 times, with July 31 being the next time we are trying. When we started the planning never in history would you think you would postpone a wedding because the venue is closed, or that no one feels it's safe to come. Very very sad."
Aaron Leth: "The first diagnosis and US death the week of March 2 was a pivot from precaution to panic in the city - I remember walking down 8th avenue on my lunch break, going to Westerly Market to stock up on vitamins, elixirs and any form of immunity medication I could afford. I was on the phone with my parents, and it was odd because in Nebraska, they were experiencing none of the chaos. When I made it to the shop, I found the last two bottles of the special organic Immunity Formula, stashed behind a bunch of boxes in a random shelf. Clearly, desperate measures were beginning -- someone clearly was trying to prevent their sale. The line and frenetic energy was electric from that point onward anywhere you went in the city, until the official lockdown the weekend of March 13-15, when a quiet, sad hush settled on the city that wouldn't break until early summer."
Caroline Bafundo: "My company responded to the pandemic earlier than most; by the first week in March we had started a rotating work from home schedule and had to take a car service to our NYC office. I passed it off as an overreaction and wasn't too concerned. That all changed on Monday, March 16, the day before bars and restaurants shut down in NYC. It was my day to go into the office, so I took a car service from my home in CT as the new policy required. I remember my entire perception of the situation changed as the car turned a corner onto Park Avenue. I couldn't believe my eyes: Park Avenue was nearly empty at 8:30 on a Monday morning. As I stared at this unbelievable sight, the gravity of the situation began to sink in. I began to realize the huge implications of one of the busiest streets in the financial capital of the world being empty during rush hour on a Monday morning. It was unheard-of. I went to a bar that night for the last time; I still have the receipt. I remember staring out the back of my car that night at the skyline fading into the distance as we sped down the FDR Drive, wondering if the city I knew would ever come back. A year later, I think I can say that it won't."
Theresa Scrivani: "When I saw a normally bustling busy street in my neighborhood turn into a ghost town I knew everything had changed!!!"
Mary Aumuller: "On March 13, 2020, a Friday - stopped at a supermarket on my way home from work to grab a few things, parking lot was insane, found a spot but as i walked closer to the store i noticed a line of people outside, walked over and asked a woman in line why people were waiting outside ad she said the store is so packed they are letting people in as other people leave. I waited and when it was my turn and I stepped foot in the store, I couldn't believe what i was seeing, shelves were cleaned out, no toilet paper, no water bottles, grabbed the last pack of paper towels, but it was just this uneasy feeling that took over my whole body, like insanely strong feeling and i thought - this is it, we are never going to be the same from this, our lives are about to be changed upside down!"
Iris Diaz: "I was in the hospital getting a cancer diagnoses for my daughter, realizing i could never hold her hand during chemo i realized how the world had changed. Then the fight for cancer and the fight to not get covid. Happy to say we survived both :)"
Phil Harris: "The first time I rode my bicycle into Times Square on March 28th, 2020 down the middle of 7th Ave. No cars, taxis, buses, trucks or people. No-one, nothing in sight. A ghost town. Then again in the end of April, Just me and an M15 bus going down 2nd Ave, midday. Still a ghost town. Finally, February 28th, 2021, Riding into Times Square on my way to the Javitz Center to get my first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Times Square would be bustling with tourists..but not this day. Once again, I "owned" 7th Avenue and Times Square. My videos show all. At this point, I realize that we will never be the same every again."
Katie Egan: "I realized Covid changed everything when my daughter's last day of school was on March 11, 2020. That night I had gotten an email stating school would be closed for two weeks which ultimately turned into the rest of the school year. Also my job closed down on March 20, 2020 and what was only supposed to be 2 weeks turned into 6 weeks. We knew something scary was happening when we barely had any customers once we heard about the first case in NY. I felt so lost as the days blended together and didn't know which day it was anymore!! When I went to the grocery store on Tuesday night, March 10th to take my elderly neighbor shopping. It was very crowded!! A few products like toilet paper, paper towels and disinfectant products like Lysol and Clorox were hard to find. It was scary to see how scarce some products were. I also lost my uncle to cancer in April. It was sad that I couldn't attend his wake or funeral due to only 10 people in attendance."
Ashley Willisch: "I was flying back from a bachelorette party in Miami. Seems superficial now but because schools were still open and I was traveling daily from school to school in the Bronx, I still felt safe to travel. It was only a long weekend but I tried to avoid the news as much as possible. As I was about to land in NYC, the ABC news station on the plane announced that nyc schools would officially be closed. In my 15 years, we had barely closed for snow or even Hurricane Sandy. I started crying on the plane because I knew that everything would change. A woman( mother) from Long Island handed me tissues and rubbed my back."
Anonymous: "When I went into the hospital March 15th to have my first baby and nobody was allowed to visit us. When we got home our family members only met him through the glass door."
Anonymous: "I work as a physician in a pulmonary clinic in Queens. We all heard about the Wuhan Coronavirus in January, but we thought that the flu was more of a concern. But then, sometime in late February, our patients started testing negative for the flu and for pneumonia. Even though they had no history of traveling, I began to worry that this could be it. I didn't want to sound like an alarmist, but it was around that time, late February/early March, that I knew this could potentially get very bad very quickly.....and boy, it did. :("
Aimee Canton: "Our lives have changed in a lot of ways especially after I lost my brother, another healthcare worker in New Jersey, to complications of COVID19 a week before my birthday in April. I prayed that it would never happen to my friends, going thru grieving, saying goodbye and arranging his celebration of life thru zoom. Zoom has been our source of strength since we are able to communicate and pray together with our family all over the globe. We are healing as a family. My brothers family has left New Jersey last year and we continue to support them in anyway we can. We drove west to east, 9000 miles in two months to reunite with them. I continue to pray for the end of this pandemic. -A.B.C."
Diane Dawson: "March 12. It was the day I saw the announcement that Broadway would be shutting down, which was stirring because I knew the only other time that had ever happened was on 9/11. It was also extra impactful because i had happened to see the new Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill the night before -- which turned out to be the cast's final performance for what's going on a year now! I think about that night a lot, especially because Jagged Little Pill has the super rare occurrence of a show-stopping number that leads to a standing ovation in the middle of the musical. How much i miss that feeling of leaping to my feet to honor the live performance of an artist, and the feeling that theater gives me as an audience member. I truly hope that concerts and theater will be back up and running soon... our culture is nothing without its art!"
Gavin Triggs: "I realized COVID was gonna change everything when I was at the park practicing for the baseball season and Bill de blasio came live on the air to announce schools were going to close for the next month (little did we know). At that moment my friends all cried because they were scared of not being able to have more time to find their college choices before the end of the year. We had a last send off sleepover knowing that there was so much unknown about the future and my friend izzys parents wouldn't let her until the virus went away. Riding away in the car ride staring back at our friends Izzy and Oliver, my friends Sofie and Skyler and me knew everything was never gonna be the same. Our precious years of high school and final years as kids were being altered without our choosing whatsoever and we had to deal with it."
Jonathan Weinraub: "I am a patient at Memorial Sloan Kettering and my doctor was discussing my next followup might be in face masks if this virus turns pandemic, as it was still February, I think, maybe late January when whispers of the virus were occurring and maybe one person state-side. Eventually I was working from home remotely despite some resistance at the office, then when the numbers exploded watching in awe, shock, and anger of the daily numbers with Cuomo's and Murphy's daily briefings. It was awful that made me really angry and upset of course and now a year later, still working from home, with 500,000 less Americans and even more of our world-wide citizens."
Deacon Thomas: "When the governor called stay at home order in March 2020 I knew everything was gonna change. I knew things was different when I was getting calls every week someone I knew had passed from covid. The world will never be the same. God is gonna bring his people back to his word. We all gotta love different now even wearing masks."
Anonymous: "When I received a text from a good friend, who was also my boss late one night in the middle of March 2020 that he was in the hospital and to keep his store running. 2 days later he was put on a ventilator in an induced coma. We tried running "business as usual" as we sat there day after day watching tv as the numbers of cases and death went up....so many bodies that they had to be put in refrigerated trucks..praying for our boss. 23 days later he passed and reality hit....especially when everyone was wearing masks by then and we paid our last respects "2 at a time". We were living in a ghost town by then and were out of our jobs and that's really when we realized how much Covid had changed our lives."
Eric Thomas: "The moment I began to realize everything was going to change, is when I recently moved my 98 year old father into a rehabilitation center in late February and as the news of the center in LI made the rounds my next visit to the center in Clifton there was a sign asking for anyone who visited the LI center not to enter. I always was greeted on his floor by a few gentlemen in wheelchairs they went from 3 , 2, 1 and I decided to remove my father on that very weekend. I was a tour guide and was scheduled for a 15 hour tour a day excursion to Wash. DC very popular with international arrivals, but my daughter who worked with Visit Britain had home with a fever her boss who made the news just returned from abroad and went straight to his office, so I called the office and advised I could not go. I did not want to subject any passengers to whatever was going around we still hadn't shut down the country. But my wife who works in a hospital was concerned, so I stayed home. The driver of that tour later past away March 23 and the replacement guide got quite sick. The rest has been whirlwind of tragedy our travel industry ended after more than 30 years of having worked bringing foreigners to visit NYC. I actually served on the post 911 recovery 19 years earlier, but this dwarfs that tragic day."
Zach Farren: "As a flight attendant that lives on the UWS and working out of JFK and LGA throughout March, I watched as it seemed passengers become more aware of what was really transpiring. I tend to fly trips where I just fly somewhere and come right back to be home each night, so I encountered a new group of New Yorkers each day coming and going as the pandemic began to unfold. What started out as just simple seat wipe downs and basic precautions in early March turned into passengers full masks (and even a full protective body suit for one) and the unwillingness to eat or drink whatsoever on the airplane. As each day passed in March, the airport felt more and more like a ghost town, with hardly any amenities available for the few travelers left. Flights I worked that were full daily were soon with just a handful of passengers. As I came home each night, the city was the eerily quiet. Restaurants and stores were closing, traffic was nonexistent, the streets of the city were empty.. the normal vibrant city noise was absent... soon replaced by the haunting sirens of the ambulances weaving through the streets at all hours of the day."
Kelly Del Valle: "The date was March 18, 2020. It was my husbands birthday and I had an owners rep meeting with the USPS in the James A. Farley Building that morning. NYC Schools had just been shut down. The whole city was essentially closed. I drove into work that Wednesday morning. I live in the Northeast section of the Bronx. I worked on 34th and 9th. Guess how long it took me to get to work. 18 minutes. That's when I knew that this pandemic was extremely serious and from that day on my family and I treated it as such. It would also be the last time I was in Manhattan. Today is March 3, 2021."
Emily Rodriguez-Laveroni: "The Physicians and nurses treating my husband at Dazian -7th Floor ICU at Beth Isreal Mount Sinai in NYC are Working above and beyond And are providing the very best treatment for my husband and they are extremely caring And are Extremely compassionate. He has several medical issues kidney and liver failure also liver cancer hes been fighting over the years and this month unfortunately He also has Covid. The odds for his survival were barely to none but it's been a month and hes still here. The physicians and nurses treat him like hes their family member, not just someone on a ventilator dying of covid. They risk their lives working on him. They also are a great support system for the families. I just would like them to have their due recognition and Thank them for what they do."
Annamaria Romano: "I realized that COVID-19 changed everything when the ridership declined on the subway. Before the pandemic, I used to take the subway after work with my sister and friend. In March 2020, those days had started to decline. They had started to work from home. At my job, I was still coming into the office and going home alone on the subway. Then one day it hit me. No more days of meeting up with my sister and friend to discuss our families or jobs. I literally sat on the train one day and played back a scenario of the last time we got together. It really got to me. I started to get upset wondering when we would see each other again. Then Friday March 20th came and the Governor stated at a press conference that all non essential workers had to stay home as of Monday March 23rd. Just like most people, you sometimes complain about some aspects of your job but that Friday evening when I left the office, I had a lump in my throat again thinking will I see this place again? That's when I realized that COVID-19 changed everything."
Jennifer Nicholson: "On March 12, 2021 we started to prep in the school district in which I work to work from home. At the time it was going to be two weeks to stop the spread and honestly I was terrified of what was happening- it felt like the apocolypse or the end of things. In many ways it has been. I think when we got to April and things were moved out indefinitely that is when I started wondering "how do we come back from this?". I have watched my kids suffer and adjust to this. 16, 7 and 4 (now 5). Businesses I love have been lost forever. Will my kids look back and remember life before COVID19 someday? My friends have lost their jobs. The burden to the single working mom has been insane and so many working moms have lost their jobs to stay home and juggle virtual learning. I am still not sure how we are going to come out of this. I would love to say it would be more unified but somehow we have slipped into these cocoons of the virtual world even more at this point. I love to think that every hard lesson has is part of a bigger plan when we come out on the other side of it. I guess we will see."
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