On March 17, 2020, offices across the state closed at the request of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, initiating a switch to working from home and holding online meetings virtually overnight.
Students throughout Oregon left for spring break and ultimately stayed in distance learning until just a few weeks ago.
In the meantime, restaurants closed.
People lost their jobs.
Life as we knew it changed dramatically, and no one knew what would happen next.
A lot has happened in the year since, which I chronicled in Siuslaw News’ recent “COVID-19: One Year in Oregon” (March 3).
From the state’s first reported case of the novel coronavirus Feb. 28, 2020, to the recent rollout of three different COVID vaccines, Siuslaw News has joined other news outlets in covering not only the virus but its effects on every aspect of life in our area.
In fact, if you go to our website (www.TheSiuslawNews.com) and search “coronavirus,” you will find more than 400 mentions of the virus in our stories and posts.
Some stories covered the “big” aspects of a global pandemic. These included climbing case counts and shifting guidelines for health and safety across every industry, as well as the first local outbreaks, first deaths and first access to vaccines.
But looking over the past year, I was reminded of not only the big stories, but also the many human moments.
Already in the first month of the pandemic, people were making masks and asking for fabric and monetary donations so they could help equip hospital and frontline workers.
Local organizations collected other personal protective equipment (PPE) to help fill in the gaps.
Groups stepped in to provide meals for their neighbors.
The community helped celebrate milestone achievements with parades and online parties.
We all got used to talking through computer screens.
These were the new ways that the communities in Florence, Dunes City, Mapleton and upriver supported each other.
Now, a year into the pandemic, life as we know it is changing once again.
More and more of us are getting vaccinated — thanks in part to two large-scale clinics held at the Florence Events Center, where more than 2,100 doses were administered by Lane County Search and Rescue.
In addition, our students are going back to school and sports are once again appearing in our B section. Restrictions are easing and we are heading back — at least in small steps — toward a semblance of “business as usual.”
It’s not over, however.
The federal and state governments are still asking us to follow safety guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. We still have to wear masks, sanitize often and socially distance ourselves from others.
It’s hard not to jump back in, to embrace our new allowances — and our friends — and celebrate.
But we have to remember that the restrictions are ultimately a way to save lives.
Moving into the 13th month of the pandemic, Siuslaw News will continue to be here with our COVID-19 coverage as we document additional vaccination opportunities, county metrics, local cases and more.
The time we have spent together as a community under COVID-19 has been — and continues to be — a tough time.
But the unique community we’ve built in the Siuslaw Region pulled through.
Now, we need to just hold on a little longer.