How will history treat the recent Covid pandemic? There was the “bad,” the “very bad,” the “not-so-bad” and the “not bad at all.” I wonder how all these diverse manifestations of the pandemic will be looked at in 20 years or so.
Many people died from the virus or suffered severe after-effects of the infection. The hospital beds were filled, and surgeries and other procedures were delayed. Nurses and doctors were exhausted and frequently came down with the infection. Some died. This new virus was extremely virulent and contagious. This was very bad.
Attempts to decrease exposure to the pathogen resulted in restrictions and cautions, resulting in many bad outcomes. The damage to the economy from decreasing travel and gatherings was severe as many businesses closed. Jobs and incomes were lost. Savings were depleted. Education was interrupted, in spite of internet instructions and the difficulty of teaching in a new venue. Loneliness took its toll on those who needed socialization.
In a “not-so-bad,” category was dragging us into the 21st century — screaming and kicking with frustration at times, as we tried to become competent ordering things over the internet, using Skype and Zoom intelligently, and remembering to plug in our cell phones. We discovered that communication wasn’t dead. We just had to work harder to achieve it.
The pandemic safety measures brought new insights to many. Financially, people learned that living hand-to-mouth was precarious, and having some savings was important. It brought an increased awareness of hygiene and preventing contagion. Others learned about epidemics of the past and the measures that were taken to avoid the spread of disease in a community.
Perhaps the true silver lining was being forced to step back from social obligations. Instead of going to meetings, cooking for company, etc., there was time to read books, garden, catch up with housework, and complete those things that had been saved for another day. Finding time for ourselves was not so bad. Some found new projects that kept them busy, but allowed social distancing (or in reality – anti-social distancing).
The Clallam County Genealogical Society purchased an old large building at the beginning of the pandemic. We renovated it — moving walls, putting in new flooring, fixing electrical mysteries, painting, putting up shelving for the library and unpacking boxes and boxes of books.
This project that would probably still be underway if the pandemic had not interfered with the usual summer visitors and trips. This accomplishment is in the “not-so-bad” category.
We finished and opened to the public – everyone wearing masks and spritzing their hands. Sadly, we could not hold the “Grand Opening” the project deserved because of limited gatherings. “Build it and they will come” proved true with huge donations to the library. We spent the last part of the Covid crisis labeling and cataloging books, expanding our library holdings exponentially.
Ultimately, I have to admit that, in spite of the things we accomplished at home and with the Genealogy Research Center, I hope to never have to deal with another pandemic in my lifetime.
Roberta Griset is a Clallam County Genealogical Society committee member and Heritage Advisory Board member.