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One Year of the Pandemic: A Look at Life Then and Now

We've gone from bread-baking to low-carbing, from making masks to making vaccine appointments

collage of images from the coronavirus pandemic including face masks, distanced and zoom visits, pets, toilet paper, sourdough bread, and electric bicycles

AARP

En español | One year of the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered how Americans live, learn, work, worship and play.

Delores and John Miles, married 71-year-old retirees who live in McKinney, Texas, opted for grocery delivery, didn't socialize with friends, canceled a European river cruise and stopped going to church, the gym and restaurants.

"At the very beginning, I was optimistic that this was going to be a short-time epidemic that was going to be quickly resolved,” Delores says. “Our whole thought process changed in a matter of months. I feel like our age group was the most threatened. We stopped doing all of the fun things that made our lives mentally healthy."

Her spirits are up since she and John received their second COVID-19 vaccinations in late February and since the CDC issued new guidance that says some socializing is now safe. “We're still wearing a mask and social distancing, but we aren't afraid anymore to step out the door,” Delores says.

Jamais Cascio, a distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future in California's Silicon Valley calls the past year a “social experiment in radical change” in people's lives.

"There are some things that work and some things that don't, and we learn a lot from it,” he says. “As the impact of the pandemic fades, there's been discussions about how much of the new we will keep."

Many people think some changes are here to stay. Just over half of U.S. adults expect their lives to be transformed in major ways post-pandemic, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

Here's a snapshot of some lifestyle changes from the start of the pandemic to today:


THEN

NOW

 Making face masks from old T-shirts

Wearing double masks

The race to develop a vaccine

Scoring a vaccine appointment

Pandemic pet adoptions

Busy dog parks

 Sweatpants and slippers

       Dressing up for the heck of it

Toilet paper shortage

Grape-Nuts cereal shortage

Road tripping

Booking flights for summer and fall

Video chatting with grandchildren

Hugging grandchildren!

Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu

HBO Max, Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+

COVID hippie hair

Buzz cuts, bobs and highlights

Gaining the "quarantine 15"

The home gym

Avoiding your doctor

Zooming your doctor

Empty buses and trains

E-bicycling

Baking sourdough bread

Low-carb diet

Lines at ATMs and bank drive-throughs

Venmo

Grocery deliveries

Igloo dining

Live performances go dark

Free concerts and performances online

Wondering when we’ll go back to the office

Wondering if we need to go back to the office

Sheryl Jean is a contributing writer who covers aging, business, technology, travel, health and human-interest stories. A former reporter for several daily metropolitan newspapers, her work also has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and The Dallas Morning News and on the American Heart Association’s website.

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