This is usually the time of year where I’d make some witty remarks and puns about Newfoundland’s Irish roots, our predisposition to alcohol and excessive Paddy’s partying and how you can hear Jigs & Reels bursting through every car radio and sound system from St. John’s to St. Anthony on March 17th. That doesn’t feel appropriate in 2021.
We’re officially crossing the one year anniversary of COVID-19 on The Rock. Newfoundland and Labrador announced its first presumptive case of the coronavirus on March 14th, 2020, with a public health emergency declared four short days later. Seems a lifetime ago, right?
Early days of COVID
Remember the anxiety and dread surrounding those early days of COVID? We, much like the rest of the world, seemed ill prepared for a global pandemic. It’s the type of thing you never think about until you need to think about it, the most unlikely of situations. Like catching yourself aloud saying “President Donald Trump” or a “Texas deep freeze,” these are indeed strange days.
As the global news media began to run with the story of the deadly super-spreader, there was as much skepticism as there was paranoia and fear here at home.
On our isolated slice of paradise, in particular, the idea of province-wide lockdowns seemed unthinkable. Those were international, big city problems, far removed from the pink, white and green.
That ideology quickly went the way of the dinosaur and Mellow Yellow. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were not exempt from a virus that did not and does not discriminate with class, creed and gender. The bayman in his home-away-from-home cabin in the woods is as susceptible as the millionaire in his Manhattan high-rise.
As of press time we are closing in on 1,000 confirmed cases and, heaven forbid, double digit deaths. But with all things Newfoundlandia, there is good to come out of the bad.
A pair of Alert Level 5 labelled shutdowns, and more than a few adjust-on-the-fly scenarios from both residents and business folk alike have seen both rural and urban islanders adjusting remarkably well to “COVID-living,”
This most recent surge in cases, and subsequent shutdown on the Avalon, has seemingly been handled more swiftly by all hands, proving that both government and its citizens have learned and continue to learn from those early days of March 2020.
There is no getting back what we have lost, both in moments, time, and in those rare tragic cases, life itself, but as 2021 enters its second quarter, there is optimism of our prospects at long last.
Once more ‘round the sun here on our rugged shores and pine clad hills. Year one of COVID tested our strength and spirit. Let’s hope the sophomore season doesn’t break our resolve.
Hold Fast, Newfoundland and Labrador.