ABC7's digital series COVID-19 Diaries closely followed as Bay Area residents navigated the global pandemic, covering feelings of initial panic to adjustment and everything in between. One year later, Northern California ever so slightly reopens its doors as vaccinations ramp up.
COVID-19 DIARIES: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
The same subjects interviewed throughout 2020 now share their reflections, lessons learned, and honest opinions about where we're headed.
"It's probable that coronavirus is here for good. It's just, with the vaccines, can we make it manageable like we do the flu," said retiree David Wolfson.
"Now I just put a mask on without even thinking about it," Wolfson continued. "It's going to be weird to go out in public and go to the grocery store without a mask on."
"As rapidly as the vaccine was designed and distributed...it's also taken us a year to sort of find the consensus and the mutual goal of getting back to normal," said André Ramos.
As residents emerge from a full year of sheltering in place, our subjects have adapted to pandemic life; however, even with strides forward, there have been considerable setbacks.
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"Our business has gotten worse. At the beginning of the year, typically between January and March, is when our business really relies on the convention center and schools coming back. And without those two things, the first three months of the year is brutal for us," stated Frank Nguyen, owner of Academic Coffee in San Jose.
Amidst ongoing devastation, the interviewees have found silver linings throughout lockdown -- little victories that power their hope for the future.
"Anyone that can survive this is probably going to come out stronger because they've probably had to crazy diversify their business and run it leaner than they've ever had," said Nguyen.
"My daughter came out today to throw out the trash as I was getting back from a walk, and my neighbor was like, 'Wow, look at that,'" recalled educational consultant Kirstin Hernandez. "They're definitely, you know, learning some things around the house and doing more things than they might if they were at school all the time."
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"We've gone hiking and seen so many more of the East Bay Regional parks than we ever have, and I've lived here for over 25 years," added Hernandez.
"I would say that there is an increased sense of community in our little part of the world," concluded retiree Paula Baessler.
Watch the full video for each resident's take on the life-altering effects of sheltering in place and COVID-19.
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