Our lives have changed

Warwick. How people are coping in this time of COVID-19.

19 Mar 2020 | 10:19

Just three months ago, the coronavirus wasn’t even a thought. By the last day of 2019, China reported its first case of COVID-19. Just three weeks later, the United States reported its first case. By the end of January, numerous countries declared health emergencies and travel bans due to the new epidemic.

In February, large events were being cancelled. Italy’s cases rose to 1,000 and the country would eventually shut down. The United States suffered its first death.

It has snowballed since then. Now, schools and libraries are closed. Movie theaters, some large retail stores, gyms, yoga studios, all shuttered. Even Catholic masses are on hold. Restaurants are closed except for take-out and delivery. Little League and other youth sports programs have postponed their opening day. The NBA, NHL aren’t competing. March Madness is cancelled. Even the boys of summer have postponed their season for now. The stock market has tumbled and rebounded and tumbled again. Uncertainty. A crowd of no more than 10 is the recommendation. Businesses are asking their employees to work from home.

Our lives have changed and we are dealing with it in different ways.

'I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this'

George Anastasis, owner Opa Greek Grill, 10 Oakland Ave.

Anastasis opened Opa about four years ago but he is not new to the restaurant business. He has owned six restaurants, including the Goshen Diner. What is new to him, though, is what is happening now.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this,” he said.

His small restaurant has a robust take-out business in the best of times so he is set up well for this new normal. Still, he anticipates he will lose business.

“Bigger places have more overhead, with lots of workers,” said Anastasis. “I have five people working for me. Here, a gyro sandwich is $8. Salads with grilled chicken are reasonable. If you’re a tablecloth restaurant and now all of a sudden you have only a take-out business, you may be in trouble. High end places have it a little tougher.”

Anastasis said he will make up for what he hopes is a temporary loss in business by alternating his workers, noting some hours are better than none. He purchases carefully, wasting less. There is also the hope that people, who are working more from home and going out less, will want to get out a little bit and bring home some good food.

“That’s what we’re counting on.”

They’ll bring it right to your door

Michele Hull, co-owner, Applewood Winery

This is the time of year Hull waits for. Spring begins the busy season that lasts into late fall for Applewood Winery, a family-owned winery and cidery on Four Corners Road. Hull and her husband, Jonathan, own the winery, known for their award-winning Naked Flock line of ciders.

With the state imposing limits on crowd size, given the contagious coronavirus, Hull has cancelled her music program through April 15. For now. The winery, though, is open Friday through Sunday for customers wanting to pick up bottles and cases of wine and cider. Hull said they will also offer free local delivery as well as free shipping for online purchases of four or more bottles.

“Hopefully this will pass sooner rather than later,” she said. “The impact this may have on our small local businesses could be devastating.”

'We are blessed to have each other'

Jean and Sam, retired

Jean and Sam were at ShopRite a little earlier in the day than they usually are. It was about 9:30 Wednesday morning but they felt they should get there before the store started to run out of things, as they heard was becoming common.

Are they avoiding places or changing their routine in other ways amid this coronavirus pandemic?

“Where can we go?” said Jean, noting that everything is closed. “I was bummed that all my activities were cancelled.”

The couple lives in Warwick Grove, the 55 and older development in the Village of Warwick behind Veterans Memorial Park, and even though the gym there gets a small number of people, it’s closed, Jean lamented.

“But then I started thinking. We are so blessed to be here in the United States, confined to our house with plenty of food, shelter, entertainment,” she said. “We just said on the way here that we are blessed to have each other.”

Compared to other countries, Jean and Sam agreed that, so far anyway, they can’t complain.

“We are not suffering like people in other countries,” said Jean. “Maybe I won’t get the beef I wanted here at ShopRite if they run out, but I have other choices.”

“There’s always Cheerios,” Sam added.

Jean understands, though, there are others who are suffering in different ways. Her daughter owns restaurants and with only take-out available, this hurts her and her employees, some of whom will have to be laid off temporarily.

“I hope this is over soon.”

'This isn’t fun for anyone'

Julie Christian, full-time employee, full-time mom

Christian works full time in the engineering/construction business but from home so having her 13-year-old daughters home with her isn’t a problem. What is a problem is how her daughters are affected by this.

“I don’t want them to watch the news all the time,” Christian said. “I explain to them what’s going on and they understand.”

Both are very good students. They independently go to Google Classroom and do the classwork they have been assigned. Sara is into music and theater. She has continued her voice and drama lessons via Facetime while being home. Rachel is a high-level track athlete, coming off a record-breaking indoor season. She was preparing to go to junior nationals this weekend, which of course is on hold now. She hasn’t been able to practice with her team or work out at the gym.

“It’s been difficult filling the time with something meaningful,” said Christian.

The girls want to see their friends but Christian isn’t comfortable with that for a few reasons. Sara has used an inhaler since she was a toddler. Christian’s mom, who lives nearby and usually helps her out, has emphysema. Christian’s husband is over 60. All three of them are at a higher risk if the virus is brought into their house. She doesn’t want to risk that.

“They are staying in. My government has told me we should be in and that’ what I’m doing,” she said. “Maybe I’m overreacting with them, but maybe I’m not. People test positive and show no signs of the virus.”

What is everyone doing to pass the time? “Well, the girls are doing their schoolwork and face-timing friends. I am busy working and now helping my mom, who used to help us.”

They also have a new puppy, Jazz, who requires some training.

“We are just trying to adjust.”

'I felt panic when they closed school'

Melissa Marino, full-time speech pathologist, full-time mom

Marino is fortunate and she knows it. Although this mom of two young boys, ages 7 and 4, works outside of the home full time, she has been able to shift her work hours so she is home with them in the morning while their dad changed his schedule to take the afternoon shift. In between, grandparents help out.

“I homeschool them early in the morning then go to work at 11 a.m.,” said Marino, who is a speech pathologist at Schervier Pavilion. “My parents take over for a couple of hours and then their dad when he gets home in early afternoon.”

The support and flexibility have calmed her fears. “I felt panic when they closed school. And day one was rough. The boys were home and wanted to watch TV and go to Billy Beez. Now they are on a good schedule.”

Thomas, 7, attends Sanfordville, and likes to read to Finnegan, 4, a student at St. Stephen’s preschool.

She and her family are taking precautions with the virus, especially since she works with a very vulnerable population at Schervier.

“I am very cautious at home and at work,” said Marino. “We really try to protect the population there, cleaning everything, changing our clothes.”

Marino also owns a photography studio, which is temporarily closed out of a sense of “social responsibility.

“We’ve had a good outcome,” she said. “That’s not to say we’re not concerned. We are. Just not freaking out, buying 87 rolls of toilet paper. We’ve stocked up on things. But I see the positives. I am getting to spend more time with my kids.”