Reflections: One year since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Wisconsinites shared stories of where they were this time last year and how life was upended in so many ways.
Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 7:10 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Thursday marks a year since the World Health Organization officially declared a pandemic and many of you are reflecting on the year that it was.

Nicole Norton was traveling across the globe in March of 2020, particularly Europe and Asia, when she was grounded.

“It was terrifying because we didn’t have access to internet really, so I could barely contact my parents...or any of our family members,” Norton of Green Bay said.

Stuck in south India, the country’s government prevented Norton from leaving. Yet within a few days, the Indian government changed its mind and ordered all non-citizens to depart.

“I had to cancel the rest of my trip, which I planned on going to Egypt and Iceland before coming back to the states,” the 34 year old said.

Gary Wondrash was a gym teacher at Highlands Elementary school in Appleton. He spent 30 years teaching and was scheduled to retire in May of 2020.

However, the educator decided to hang it up early once schools closed and made a Youtube video with his announcement. He’s currently living near Tampa, Florida.

“I went in the day before they totally locked down the school and I decided I wanted to make a video because I was not going to be able to leave the way I wanted to leave, saying goodbye to all the kids...on the last day,” Wondrash said with his voice cracking as he grew emotional.

The coronavirus pandemic forced hospitals to collaborate with one another dropping the notion of competition.

“We supported each other. We shared what we were doing with our staff, how we were keeping people safe. All the protocols, we designed those on the fly. There was no playbook for this,” Prevea Health President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ashok Rai said.

Some of you have focused on the silver linings. Sue Peters of Green Bay for instance started sewing masks and donating them to various groups.

“I’ve donated to schools, to the Boys and Girls Club, to the cancer pediatric unit at [HSHS St. Vincent Hospital] for both the doctors and the kids to have matching masks,” Peters, 71, said.

John Jahnke said he and his son, who has autism, have biked thousands of miles together during the lockdown. Both found it to be therapeutic.

“There’s none of that pressure of therapy because a lot of time people with disabilities, their whole life is therapy. Their whole life is someone trying to teach them how to become part of their community,” Jahnke of Green Bay said.

PANDEMIC YEAR ONE: It was March 11, 2020 when the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Tell us about your year. How are you doing now?

Posted by WBAY TV-2 on Thursday, March 11, 2021

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