It’s debatable when history should mark the beginning of COVID-19. We do know the World Health Organization didn’t declare it a pandemic until March 11, 2020 — a year ago this Thursday. But by then, we were already in the thick of fighting an enemy we couldn’t see.
I plead guilty to being one of the late believers about the virus. It wasn’t until the NCAA canceled March Madness a year ago that I was convinced the virus was serious. Money talks. And the message sent from that loss of money was loud and clear.
Until then, I was amazed with the panic-buying taking place. Store shelves were being emptied of toilet paper of all things. I laughed as I imagined grandkids sitting on my lap years from now asking what I remember about the coronavirus.
“Toilet paper,” I would tell them, “people hoarded toilet paper fearing they would run out of it. The store shelves were wiped clean of it.”
But there was nothing funny about this virus, as we all learned later.
Photographs of elderly family members looking out the windows of nursing homes taught us that lesson. The sadness mirrored in their eyes captured the loneliness their hearts felt from being quarantined.
So many things happened that no one could have envisioned.
We became a masked society, where the good guys wore face coverings and the outlaws went without. The days of “no shoes, no shirt, no entry” turned into “no mask, no entry.”
Our way of life was being shutdown. One closing led to another. Factories were idled. Colleges were emptied. Restaurants were no longer permitted to serve people in their dining areas. It was carryout or nothing
We were branded like cattle. Some of us were called “essential” and allowed to work, others were not. The threat and reality of unemployment knocked at our doors.
We looked for leadership, and Ohioans found it in Gov. Mike DeWine and health commissioner Amy Acton. They kept us informed and reassured us. But we are a society that expects things to happen now. It didn’t take long before we blamed DeWine for the tough times. And Acton? She would end up resigning after protesters marched in front of her home, some carrying guns.
As summer approached, people looked for ways to get out of the house. We found ourselves turning to simple pleasures, but that didn’t come easy, either. Bicycles became harder to find at local stores as did fishing equipment. People with swimming pools found it tougher to find supplies to maintain them.
But the real story of this pandemic continues to go back to the tragic loss if life. To people like John Reynolds, Phil Battels and Jerry Cress. Their story was told Saturday in The Lima News by Merri Hanjora.
They were three longtime buddies united with a love for cars. Each owned a Ford product: Cress, a 2007 Ford Mustang GT convertible, Reynolds a 1987 Ford Thunderbird and Battels a 1950 Mercury Coupe.
Every Wednesday, they met at Lulu’s restaurant for breakfast. But in three straight months — from October to December of 2020 — the invisible monster would steal them away. Battels, of Ada, at age 81, and Cress and Reynolds, of Lima, at age 79.
As of Saturday, Allen, Auglaize. Putnam, Hardin and Van Wert counties would see 507 deaths.
ROSES AND THORNS: It’s basketball fever in the rose garden.
Rose: It was a night of heroics Thursday for Ottawa-Glandorf’s Owen Nichols as he hit a game-tying three-point shot with 7.5 seconds left in regulation against Coldwater and then had a steal in the closing seconds of overtime to lead the Titans to victory.
Rose: To Zoey Foster, a senior at Lima Central Catholic. She received the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Educational Excellence Award from Lima Councilman Derry Glenn for her community service and academic excellence.
Thorn: To Jennifer Collins, 30, of Lima. She was driving down Breese Road when she hit a Shawnee Township police cruiser from behind, spinning it off the road.
Thorn: To Bart Mills, who sought to have Elizabeth Hardesty’s candidacy for Lima mayor tossed. A hearing Thursday found Mills primarily based his claims on Facebook posts forwarded to him by a “friend of a friend.”
PARTING SHOT: A positive attitude may not solve all your problems. But it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.