Three years ago today the governor of California shutdown the state by issuing a stay at home order because of COVID-19.

Nearly every state issued such a mandate. The exceptions were Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and North Dakota. Kentucky issued an advisory as did Massachusetts. Oklahoma issued a partial advisory. Regions of South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming issued advisories. Wisconsin’s order was declared unconstitutional six weeks after it was announced.

In one way or another we all have been changed because of the pandemic. Most affected are the families of the millions of people who died from the deadly virus. According to Worldometer, 6,819,416 people had died from COVID-19 as of March 19, 2023. Of those, 1,151,279 were residents of the United States.

That’s a whole lot of people.

Sure, some had underlying issues that were ultimately going to kill them. That’s why there are people who take issue with the number of deaths. But look at it this way, if a person had a terminal illness and died in a car accident, what is going to be listed as the cause of death? Injuries related to accident; not the terminal illness. Same goes with COVID. Cause of death is the last thing that struck you, so to speak.

We all know the federal response was a cluster. I want to believe the information coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the contradictory, ever-changing statements without explanation made it all feel so political. Politics should not be part of public heath decisions.

I believe in science. I know science changes as more information comes in. Research brings knowledge. It’s a basic fundamental of how science evolves.

I have said for a while now we are all involved a great scientific experiment—everyone—those who are vaccinated at some level, those like me who have received every available inoculation, and those who are adamant to never get that needle near them.

It still amazes me people are skeptical of the vaccine. The Messenger RNA, or mRNA, was discovered in the early 1960s. Want more info, John Hopkins is a good resource.

I realize we are still learning so much about this virus—the mutations, who is affected most, why some people like me have never had COVID, and why others get long COVID.

What I’m still wondering about is was shutting things down the best way to stop the spread. Maybe if it had been done universally and if everyone who could get vaccinated had (and still would), then the virus might have disappeared by now.

Let’s just say closing businesses and telling people to stay home were the best options. I maintain the government then is obligated to make people whole. Not by having business owners apply for loans (even if they are eventually forgiven), nor by sending stimulus checks, but by actually paying people their wages. This works for those (unlike me) who get a W2 form. It’s going to trickier for those of us who are self-employed, who are contract 1099 workers. But it could be done. That would have kept the economy going.

I am sure there are plenty of people who will say this is an oversimplistic solution and shoot holes in it. Well, what we did wasn’t so brilliant, so I hope the powers that be are looking for better outcomes for when the next global crisis hits.

This pandemic also exposed the fragility and inequities of so many systems—from schooling (how about all those kids that didn’t have internet access at home) to health care workers (why did medical personnel not have enough protective equipment?) to government ineptness (where was the plan for such a catastrophe?).

I was in Todos Santos, Mexico, when California shut down. I could tell it was only a matter of time before the same became true for Baja California Sur. I was on the road north by the end of March 2020.

But I never felt like my world truly shut down in South Lake Tahoe. I still snowshoed and hiked. We took more vehicles to the trailhead and we walked farther apart. But we were still in nature.

At first we played tennis with each player opening a can of balls. That was inefficient. We actually socialized more by staying after to have an adult beverage (we brought our own). Chairs were spaced out.

I have never been one who goes out a lot, so I wasn’t missing much. I found ways to see my friends. I was out on dog walks.

And then I headed back to Mexico in fall of 2020 until the following March. Life in Baja is lived outdoors even without a pandemic, so again, not much changed compared the previous two winters I had spent there.

Life is always about making adjustments, compromising and adapting.

I’m still cautious because of COVID, but I’m still living my life to the fullest.

But I wonder what could have been done so the 6.8 million people who have died from COVID and the ones who will die in the future didn’t have to. That’s the lesson I’m not sure we’ve learned. I don’t think we’ve learned what to do in the next pandemic or other crisis. That’s what scares me the most.

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