A year ago this was our last week living our normal lives and no one knew it. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our county. This virus impacted our lives in every way imaginable. From entertainment to education, our lives were drastically altered. Racine County Eye readers weighed in to share how their lives were impacted by this virus over the past year.

Whether you contracted the virus or not, the regulations and safety measures have forced us to operate differently. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health on February 5, 2020, the state confirmed the first case of COVID-19. As a result, nearly a year later, Racine County has had about 23,000 cases and near 350 deaths occur per Johns Hopkins University.

Further, stay up to date with reported information and check out the Racine County COVID-19 dashboard.

As we all know, COVID-19 has done more than cause people to be ill. It has affected employment, education, social interactions, childcare, healthcare, celebrations, transportation, technology, online services/shopping, and more.

Employment

Not only in Racine County was there a shift in employment opportunities, but also all over the world. The impact of COVID-19 caused Wisconsinites to experience job loss, transitions to online, difficulty obtaining a job, and working from home.

Certain roles were deemed essential because of the high demands of their job. Those working in healthcare, transportation/delivery, food services, and government officials were classified as essential work.

Additionally, unemployment hit Wisconsinites hard throughout the past year. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, between March 15 and June 6 of 2020, 626,697 people applied for unemployment insurance benefits. Read more about the Wisconsin unemployment crisis here.

Further, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rates in Racine, here. For a history log of unemployment rates, click here.

The Racine County Eye also posts helpful information about employment and job opportunities here.

Education Impacts

Whether you are in college or if you have a child who is in the first grade, education doesn’t operate the way it once did. School districts transitioned to online learning to prevent the spread of the virus. Parents, educators, and students have had to make major adjustments this past year to avoid negative COVID-19 impacts.

However, some districts such as Kenosha Unified School District have been using a hybrid model since September 2020. An educator at Tremper High School says, “We teach hybrid and wear masks. After school clubs are virtual.”

Racine Unified School District has adopted using this method for about a week now.

Washington Park High School student, Alexis Betker, says, “I have had to adapt to online learning and limited sports. I have learned to use every opportunity I am given and to make the most of the situation. We have been very cautious and have had to take the correct safety precautions in everything we do.”

It’s been an adjustment and extra challenges have presented themselves. To honor educators, the Racine County Eye features an educator a week who is making a difference. Read those stories here.

Social Interactions

In a time where it’s been encouraged to distance ourselves from others, we’ve found ways to connect. What couldn’t take place in person happened via the internet. Zoom, a video chat application, became an overnight sensation. Important moments in history were streamed or restrictions were implemented at in-person events.

The impact of COVID-19 has forced people to wear masks and social distance when attending events in person. Procedures changed and forced life to function in a new way. This way of life is still continuing even a year later.

Celebrations

Racine County Eye reader, Travis Ptaschinski, says “I missed my honeymoon” and that’s not the only celebration that didn’t occur. Birthday celebrations became drive-by parties. Likewise, anniversaries shifted to getting take-out dinner, rather than having a candlelight dinner. As a result of COVID-19 deaths, even Celebrations of Life or funerals operated with small attendance or not at all.

A positive COVID-19 impact is the Racine community got creative in the way of celebrations. Local attractions like the Racine Zoo got creative by hosting socially distant private events. Favorite celebrations like the 4th of July parade were canceled. Even now for the second year, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is not taking place.

Celebrations were more challenging to adapt to in the cooler months. However, the warmer months allow for outdoor activities to take place. Different businesses and attractions are working to offer events that meet the safety requirements. You can follow our celebrations tab here to see what’s happening in our community.

Health Impacts

The health and wellness of our community have been at stake for a year. Our entire lives have changed because of a virus. A year ago, the virus caused supply shortages, such as personal protective equipment. Hospitals were flooded with patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19. Visitors were restricted from visiting patients.

Nurse, Holly Neubauer, who follows the Racine County Eye says, ” We had to learn new practices, how to be more patient, how to care for our patients when they took a sudden decline in their health, how to be brave and strong when telling a patient’s family they might not make it. However, I am privileged to be a part of the group of healthcare workers that directly cared for COVID patients. I was able to be someone’s advocate when they couldn’t for themselves.”

This past year of dealing with the COVID-19 impacts, the Racine County Eye honored healthcare heroes through a series here.

People suffered mild to severe symptoms with this virus. One of the greatest threats being that this virus took lives. It took lives from Racine County. Even some who had the virus now face chronic health issues. Additionally, those with existing health conditions or people who are immunocompromised now fear contracting the illness.

Families were unable to visit family members while they were in the hospital. Procedures and appointments unrelated to COVID-19 were often canceled or postponed. It changed our world in every aspect.

Hope on the Horizon

A year later, a vaccine has been developed and is currently being distributed. Hope is on the horizon as healthcare workers, frontline workers, and the elderly populations have begun receiving the injections.

While the vaccine is not a cure for COVID-19, it will aim to help. You can find out if you are eligible to receive a vaccine and where by clicking here.

It’s been a tough year for our county, but Racine has rallied together. As we move forward still dealing with this virus, stay informed by reading here.


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