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Looking back: COVID-19 in 2020

By Judy Reed

Frontline workers and those with high-risk factors for complications have waited nine long months for a vaccine to make its way to Kent County and Cedar Springs. Just last week, 15 members of the Cedar Springs Fire Department received the first of two vaccinations (the Pfizer vaccine) that they will receive from the Kent County Health Department. They will receive their second dose in mid-January. 

Fire Chief Marty Fraser said they suffered no side-effects, other than a sore arm. “We recommend getting the vaccine when it is available, but please check with your doctor first,” said Chief Fraser.

When the virus first appeared here in March, many thought it would be short-lived, similar to SARS, in the early 2000s. But that has not been the case.

The first cases appeared in Michigan in Wayne and Oakland Counties, in early March. Soon after, hospitals began visitor restrictions. Events then quickly spiraled into a flood of governor-mandated emergency closure orders that changed the way we do everyday life. Schools were temporarily closed for two weeks, then told on April 2 that they were done for the school year.

City and township meetings began to be held online.

Restaurants were closed except for take-out. Gathering places such as gyms, theaters, churches, and other venues were closed. Many churches began holding services online.

Hundreds of thousands of people were laid off and the state of Michigan website struggled to keep up with all of those applying for unemployment.

Many employees began to work from home if it was feasible. Several of the Post employees have done this since March.

Limits were put on how many people could be in a store at a time. Many people began to shop online and either pick up their groceries or have them delivered.

We were first told not to wear a mask, that it wouldn’t help and there were not enough of the ones that would. Then later we were ordered to wear them.

We had to stay 6-feet from one another. We couldn’t travel to other parts of the state. And we couldn’t visit our loved ones that were dying in hospitals or nursing homes. Or in some cases, hold their funerals. 

Both COVID-19 and the subsequent emergency orders to try to stem the tide was leaving behind a wreckage of victims—to the illness; to business failures; to mental health disorders, domestic abuse, and more. And still the virus raged on, causing doctors and nurses to weather fatigue and burnout. 

The virus also became a political ploy, with each party accusing the other of not doing enough to combat it.  

But it wasn’t all bad. In fact, although some of the interactions between the maskers and non-maskers have been quite rude, the issues we are all facing have brought out some of the best in the residents of this community. 

At the end of March, the Cedar Springs community got the news that our local long-term nursing home, Metron of Cedar Springs, (now Mission Point) had 31 residents and five staff members test positive for COVID-19. It hit many people hard, knowing the virus was affecting some of the most vulnerable people we knew and in our own backyard.

A group of people in the community then reached out to show the residents and staff at Metron that they care about them and what they are going through. “Our City Impact Saturday night service prayer team reached out to Metron right when we heard the news story,” explained spokesperson Kelley Bergsma. “Our intentions at first were to do a park and pray in the parking lot, however Metron said that their residents could really use some hope right now and they wouldn’t be able to see us or hear us from our parked cars, so we were invited on the property by one of their staff who showed us which windows to go to. We had one of our worship leaders with a guitar and microphone singing, and we just moved around the building in prayer and worship.” 

Many people joined the Facebook group Cedar Springs Community Strong, and when some would post about being in need, others would immediately respond with what they needed. Also, a grocery giving table was set up outside the Ensley Realty building on Main Street where people dropped off goods, and others came and took what they needed. It was later moved to City Impact and has now turned into a grocery garage.

While we wait for the latest “pause” order from MDHHS to be lifted, and the vaccine to be distributed, people are continuing to try to support local businesses, help each other out, and look forward to the day where we can gather with our friends and loved ones again without fear. Here’s to a happy new year in 2021!

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