NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Locals reflect on how pandemic has changed our lives

COVID is a virus that has been affecting the whole world but when discussing with locals living in Massachusetts Jelisa Lopez, Sylvia Lopez and Angelica Ruiz, they share how COVID has affected them in ways outside of it being a virus.
Life before COVID feels nothing short of a dream or a distant memory, the way of life is different than it was now.

Jelisa Lopez who was in the 8th grade during the time of COVID starting describes her life before. “I often reminisce about my life before COVID but to be honest it was great like I was out every weekend with friends, I saw my family a lot and I could be around literally anyone without having to worry about a mask or like if they were sick. To sum it all up it was really nice and I was so careless and happy. I was practically never at my house.”

Sylvia Lopez who was working for a different company during the time of COVID describes her life. “Honestly it was stressful. I was in a job that I hated and really didn’t know that there was another way out. Even though I hated the job, it afforded me a
comfortable life. Though it was really demanding, it caused me a lot of stress.”

Angelica Ruiz who was working at a pharmacy during the time of COVID explains how her life was. “Before COVID I would say it wasn’t as uncertain, I had more freedom to do as I wanted but COVID also gave me a ton of opportunities and played a big role in my getting into the college of my dreams. So mixed feelings about that one.”

Whether or not life was good before the pandemic, soon things came crashing down when a lockdown had been announced.

Many took the news poorly while others accepted the fate of what was happening. Lopez  was one who at first took the news poorly, “I literally thought it was so dumb because I had no eduction on how bad COVID had spread. My school originally was gonna close only for like a few days or so. And I remember being so mad because I didn’t wanna go back to school. But as the lockdown went on I was so lonely and didn’t see anyone at all like it was just my mom, my brother and I. To sum that all up I was annoyed and I hated it but it also gave me time with my family and to figure myself out.”

On the other hand Lopez felt differently, “My first reaction to lock down was well concerned. Being an immunocompromised person it made the thought of leaving home scary. On the other hand COVID did provide an opportunity. I was able to find a job I liked. Was I unemployed for three months, yes, but unemployment helped cover the gap until I was able to start my new job. So I was able to do something I enjoyed instead but things were a bit unstable until the growing pains of the new job ended.”

Ruiz felt similar to Lopez. “My reaction to the lockdown was fear and anxiety. I was in disbelief and I wasn’t even sure if
everyone I loved would get out of it alive.”

While the rise of COVID resulted in a lockdown, many were forced into a new way of life, a way of life they were not used to. COVID had affected millions in terms of sickness but also changing who they once were before the pandemic started.A lot look back on how covid affected them, often describing loneliness, depression, sadness.

Jelisa Lopez describes her mental health taking a huge toll, “My mental health was literal crap like I was so sad because
I went from being with my friends all the time to being stuck in my house all day. I also was sad because I wanted to go to school so badly which is so surprising because I really didn’t care for school at all but I loved my teachers so I was sad I couldn’t see them. COVID affected my appearance, thankfully in a good way. I was able to play around with makeup more and I
got better thankfully”

Sylvia Lopez describes similar feelings, “COVID affected me more mentally than anything. It caused me to be fearful and depressed for a while because everything seemed so bleak. At the same time though it afforded me opportunities to try new things so I had more time to focus on myself. I know it’s contradictory, but it felt like for every good there were 10 bad things.”

Ruiz who also describes similar feelings also brings up masks, “It stressed me out and has made me more depressed, aware of my mortality, I’ve been sicker as of late, wearing masks has affected breathing and I think made me more vulnerable to allergies. I know they’re meant to keep us safe but breathing in the fibers isn’t always good.”

For the locals living in Massachusetts, COVID felt like a never ending nightmare, the way COVID had affected them has had longing affects, some feel as though they were changed as a person.

Jelisa Lopez was one of many who felt she changed due to the pandemic and lockdown. “It’s changed sooo much. Especially back in 2020 with quarantine like my mental health was literally (crap) and I was so lonely. Now everywhere I go it’s such a habit to grab my mask and hand sanitizer and make sure that if I even dare to hangout with a friend I have to make sure they haven’t been around people or maybe even have them take a COVID test. Like I don’t even have people over because I’d rather not have my family exposed to COVID.”

Sylvia Lopez and Ruiz who are romantic partners feel the same way. “Since covid I’m much more cautious about my health
and the health of my partner,” said Ruiz and Sylvia Lopez agreed.

While everything felt dark and bleak, could life go back to normal?

They say there’s always a rainbow at the end of rain but can this still hold true in terms of the pandemic, can life pick up in the way it once was?

Jelisa Lopez felt like things couldn’t go back to normal, “honestly no to be honest because like now we’re all like so scared because I didn’t even think COVID would last this long let alone even make it to the U.S.”

Sylvia Lopez (30) had some difficulty deciding between things being able to go back to normal and things not going back to normal.

“Hmm that is a difficult question to answer. But if I have to choose I would say no it can’t. The reason I say it can’t is because COVID helped highlight some ugly truths about our society. Since we can’t all get on the same page on how the disease should be handled we will be feeling the effects of COVID for years to come. Even when we do finally decide to handle this as a whole it will be too late. By that time the divide will be even larger so if another pandemic hits we will have the same issues.”

Ruiz also felt as though there is no going back to normal, “I don’t think we’ll ever be the same, I’ll be happy to take off the mask one day but I think we’ve been changed forever and people will be more cautious and distant.”

The locals living in Massachusetts have a difficult time navigating through the pandemic and the effects covid has left behind for them to deal with. While COVID is a virus and has spread to nearly every corner of the world, it has also left emotional damage and changed lives for those living in Massachusetts.