One Year Later – A Coronavirus Commemoration – How COVID-19 Changed Our Lives

A Diary Reflection of the First Month Shows How One Family Was Affected


Clarissa Cuomo, Contributing Writer

Listen to actual audio from Clarissa’s experience by clicking on these below dates!   

March 28, 2020 

April 9, 2020

Lectured by my mother before my teacher could, I was “encouraged” to document my COVID-19 experience. In my mind it was busy work, a burden. I thought that, because I figured this silly, mass-hysteria would blow over in a week. Just like everyone else, I had no idea what I was truly in for. So, on March 12, 2020, my personal COVID chronicle commenced. I recorded around 10-minute long audio recordings a few times a week. This lasted until June 20, 2020. By then, I had a total of 38 logs, but for this piece I will only be talking about the first 9. Before I dive into this journey, I want to make a note of how thankful I now am that I did this. It was shocking to hear these videos 12 months later. I can hear my attitude progress throughout the 6 months of audio logging from careless, to happy, to confused, to depressed, and to worried. Perhaps as you read through them, you will see yourself and feel good knowing others were going through the same things you were. Below are my summaries and reflections of the recordings.

03/12/20 – Today at school we had an evacuation due to a state of emergency. I thought it was funny. There have been so many memes about COVID so it seemed surreal for it to actually be affecting us. Kids make fun of it like they are untouchable and don’t take it seriously. We cheer when we are dismissed. Things in the rest of the world have already come to a screeching halt. My mom is worried that we may go into a great depression because the stock market had already plummeted. I am concerned about a transfer student, Lola. She was informed that if the school was shut down for more than 4 weeks, she would be sent home to Spain. No one thinks that will happen. Underneath our jokes, there is fear, as our society enters uncharted territory. Where did this virus come from? Bats? A fish market? Mutated swine flu or H1N1? There is lots of talk and the media is blowing up, creating panic. Postponed/canceled events include: NJROTC Military Ball, track meets, the St. Patrick’s Day parade in NY and Boston, March Madness, college summer programs, and the list is still growing….

03/13/20 – School is canceled for the next week. Right now, you can only be tested if you are experiencing symptoms. The virus is renamed to: SARS 2. I don’t really care; I am just excited for a vacation. Governor Cuomo calls an official state of emergency and the town of Brewster is closed for 5 days. I went to Costco; they had no bread or toilet paper or bananas. I wonder, why toilet paper? College campuses are urgently pushing all students off campus. My siblings are coming home! I’m happy. I miss them. Remote teaching is mentioned for the first time but I ignore it. We have hope because many people still believe it’s not a big deal. My family’s mindset is positive and we are looking forward to spending time together.

03/14/20 – My siblings have all made it home, and we sit in our living room talking about everyone’s experience leaving campus. New Zealand shuts down and is completely isolated for 2 weeks. We all agree that it would be best not knowing how long this could last. Amelia (my oldest sister), was supposed to intern there this summer. The first few weeks of quarantine are metaphorically the honeymoon phase. Everything seems unreal. It is a rush of emotion, I feel both excited and anxious. (I so clearly remember feeling this was convenient for me. I wasn’t bothered and was grateful for the change in my life, a break. Sure I was concerned but I was heavily in denial that this would amass to something inconvenient for me and my life. I learned I was selfish and oblivious to the truth; the world doesn’t revolve around me and this is just the beginning of a life of inconvenience. Welcome to life, Clarissa.)

03/15/20 – My parents are arguing… My mom says that the media is making people go crazy and panic. “We are causing our own collapse.” My dad argues that there is no way society would be making such big decisions that cost an enormous amount of time and money if it weren’t absolutely necessary. Our economy, as well as the world’s, is losing millions, billions, trillions of dollars. People in positions of power and authority would not be making these kinds of decisions if it wasn’t serious. Maybe they are both right. My dad mentions the future, urging us to consider how we will feel 6 months from now with loved ones lost, jobs at a minimum, and the economy severely damaged. This is something that hasn’t crossed my mind beforehand, and it scares me.

03/18/20 – Grant (brother) comes down with a fever. That causes a severe reaction from my parents. There is a lot of tension in the house. I have been outside a lot, entertaining myself. I still think everyone is paranoid and worried. I saw a newscast video from Italy. They were warning the rest of the world of the consequences we’ll all soon experience in the near future. (Looking back at it now, it was so clear to see they were crying for us all to take it seriously, to practice social distancing and wear a mask.) Brewster Schools are shut down for 4-5 weeks and just like that, Lola is going to be sent back to Spain. My thoughts are,”Hopefully we get through this. Hopefully it’s not that big of a deal. Hopefully we can look back and laugh at it. But we are not out of the fog yet.”

03/19/20 – Grant may have the Coronavirus. At night he sweats through his clothes and bed sheets. He can’t taste or smell anything, and he is coughing and congested. “These days have been flying by.” (My brother potentially being infected was definitely a turning point for me. I could sense the society around me preparing and gearing up for something and I could tell they were not backing down in the near future.) Supermarkets are offering special hours for the elderly to come and shop so they limit their exposure. The naval ship USS Comfort is being brought to NY. Medical facilities are cutting back on staff and only treating patients who are necessary. The whole healthcare department is preparing for an influx in patients at any moment. I am becoming more aware of the precautions and seriousness

03/22/20 – 793 people in Italy died in one day due to COVID. (Although this stat now is minuscule to what our society has endured, hearing it was still shocking and my heart aches.) Facetiming and calling has become more popular to stay in touch and keep preoccupied. In stores, food is back on shelves, but there are ration signs. I also worry about my summer job because I can’t get recertification for lifeguarding. This affects me because working would be exactly what I need. All classes are canceled. Awesome?

03/26/20 – Grant tests positive for the coronavirus. Holy s**t: he had COVID this whole time. Florence (sister) is quarantined now because we don’t want to expose her (she has asthma). The rest of my family immediately quarantine as well. We all are feeling symptoms, but I think it might be from the stress of how we have been living. We want this to end soon.

03/27/20 – We were tested today, all 5 of us excluding my brother. When we arrive in the parking garage, there are police officers and medical officials all around dressed in huge coverings making them look like they were from space. We all stay in the car and drive to the nurses station where we were instructed to roll down 2 windows as they worked with 2 people at a time. They ask for our name and DOB to confirm our appointment and label our tests. Our masks are lowered but still covering our mouths. It is a very thin stick that was very long and had a red line indicating how far to insert in the nostril. It feels as if it scratched my brain and makes my eyes tear.

03/30/20 – Test results are back. Mom, Dad, Amelia, and myself are negative. Florence has tested positive! I’m upset I tested negative. I was hoping I had it and gotten it over with. I am susceptible to illness and am worried how I will fare if I do contract it. I am super unmotivated to do any work. School is remote through April 15th. My friends think there will be no school at all. I am in denial. The widespread agitation is affecting everyone. Online school is terrible.

04/04/20 – GOOD NEWS FINALLY! Big improvements observed in the air and water quality with everything shut down. There are some rare animal sightings and Indian residents from a particular town report they can see the Himalayan mountains for the first time! From this, my brother mentions that it should be a clue to humanity that, “it’s not that hard to make a difference and help our planet. It is possible.”

04/06/20 – Things are happening that are so unheard of that we don’t believe anything without fact checking several times over. I say this because the Regents exams were canceled in the state of NY! It was state law that you needed those “stamps” on your diploma. They are changing the curriculum requirements as well as the required number of school days! All NY schools are now remaining remote until at least April 29th. And drive-through funerals?! My mom and I have a headache.

04/07/20 – A family friend who was sick with the virus for a week and a half is now coughing up blood. I am scared more and more every day about contracting the virus. At some point I want to get it and get it over with, but seeing and hearing the news and stories from my parents is making me more scared. Because many exams and tests are being canceled, I am less motivated to do work. The teachers, however, are drowning me in it. I’m sick and tired of staring at a monitor all day. I reminisce on previous normal school days. Some classes I never even used my Chromebook, but now I am just sitting on my computer for 2-3 hours straight. By 4 o’clock I don’t want to go back on to do homework. I don’t want to go on my phone. I want to be away from electronics. Going outside made me feel worlds better. I feel bad for the seniors. I know they were looking forward to many things: senior prom, milball, graduation… (well at least I can now empathize.) It’s been difficult without my friends and social interaction. I’m bored at home. I tell myself, “I hope that everything is going to be alright. I know that everything is going to be alright. It is just a matter of time before it is. So, we wait.”

04/09/20 – I’m over it. I no longer expect things to go back to how they were (though deep down I want that more than anything). I’m waking up at like 10 AM every single day and I’m not actually starting my schoolwork until 2:00 in the afternoon. Sleep and food has been luscious and abundant.

04/10/20 – My dad teaches us that we have to pretend we have the virus in order to be most safe. My patience has been tested during this month-long journey. Staying away from everyone is the best thing to do for others and the worst thing you could do to yourself. I just have to take things one day at a time. I force myself to view everything through rose colored glasses. Neither my parents, the school, nor government officials could bring me to acceptance. Only I could. When I did begin to realize my reality, I was scared and hurt and upset. I felt alone but didn’t want company because I didn’t want to be reminded that company would be through a screen or behind a door. This “journey” (really a tour through depression, anxiety, and anger) has changed me like many others and most of us are happy with the outcome. No human interaction, everyday was the same. I wasn’t happy.

The stats today are as follows:
2.48 million people have died from COVID.
63.2 million people have recovered worldwide.
112 million people currently are infected.
43.6 million people are fully vaccinated.