It was last February, about 20 degrees outside, and Susan Robel of Westwood, Massachusetts was walking with two face masks on. Robel is a local middle-aged woman who has not seen anybody outside of her immediate family in over one year.
The week after Saint Patrick’s Day in 2020, Robel, a lawyer in Boston, was required by her building to work remotely “for the foreseeable future.”
At first, Robel says she was “nervous and unaware of all the change happening so quickly,” but soon felt safer knowing she was in the comfort of her two-story suburban home. The town of Westwood was a ghost town during lockdown, but local businesses were quick to place hand sanitizer everywhere, enforcing social distancing rules.
“The community really united during the pandemic by keeping contact slim,” Robel said.
With social distancing comes social isolation. “It was great that Zoom became popular so fast because although I felt isolated, I knew that everybody else was feeling the same way,” Robel said.
The correlation between social isolation and social distancing is strong. Robel said that “it was hard staying away from friends and loved ones, but I have been in constant fear for my life for the past year.”
Change is on the horizon: in early April, all adults became eligible for the Coronavirus vaccine, and Robel was able to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Westwood is part of the Norfolk County, which has had a total of 53,854 cases with 1,773 deaths according to the New York Times on May 3.
Dr. Lisa Cannon is a pediatrician at Westwood Mansfield Pediatrics. Her office started offering COVID-19 tests for patients very soon after the pandemic started.
“During the pandemic, we began doing non-urgent appointments through zoom to limit the interaction between nurses and doctors,” said Dr. Cannon. If people do come into the office, the patient must call ahead of time to enter the building, after being asked a series of questions about possible exposure or symptoms of the virus.
Cannon says that “Westwood went above and beyond when the coronavirus hit. The local police were patrolling the town very often, making sure people who were out of their houses were following the rules.”
Many people are now able to see more loved ones after receiving the vaccine, and going out in public is a little bit less frightening.
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