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2020 put the world on pause and the coronavirus pandemic has been the worst pandemic the world has experienced in 100 years. To date, the coronavirus has lead to more than 75 million cases and 1.6 million deaths worldwide as of December 2020. The pandemic has impacted everyday life, from school and work to socializing and daily activities. Although these challenges still continue into 2021, the world has adapted to the drastic changes 2020 left behind. It is important to celebrate the victories and acknowledge how far we have come in order to take the next steps into a more positive year. It is also important not just to look at the negative aspects of 2020, but also the positives. Here is a look back at how the pandemic has altered our world.

Socializing Came to a Halt

Because coronavirus spread so easily and quickly, the world had to adjust to social distancing and refraining from social events, meaning everyone had to live in isolation for weeks on end. As a result, many people experienced increased levels of anxiety and depression. On the plus side, the world began to embrace the importance of self-care. Many began to explore their creativity and uncovered hobbies they previously did not have time to take part in before the pandemic. From painting to journaling, I found a part of myself I hadn’t paid attention to for years due to being occupied with the work and school life!

Everything Became Virtual

If I could summarize this section with one word, it would be Zoom. This was by the far the hardest part for me to adjust to, especially when schools closed and moved completely online. I had never heard of Zoom until spring quarter. Now, it’s the most popular application for lectures, virtual events, and work meetings. Many instructors who were once dedicated to in-person lectures had to scramble to figure out how to operate Zoom and record lectures, while students had to figure out how to stop forgetting they were muted on a zoom lecture. Overall, I would say it took months to finally get used to online platforms like Zoom and Blackboard Ultra, and on the positive side of things, working online can be convenient because you get to work on your own schedule and are able to get more done by switching tabs as opposed to moving from one place to another.

Masks Aren’t Just for Halloween Costumes

I remember being a ninja for Halloween back in 2019 and wore a black ninja mask to match my costume. Who knew that a mask similar to a ninja mask would become a requirement to go grocery shopping, dine in, and attend on campus events? Masks first started off as the standard medical masks and then turned into an array of different designs, patterns and colors. Masks became a wardrobe essential and a way to express yourself through the different ways it could be worn. A few cons, however, include foggy glasses and the annoying ‘maskne’.

Saying Goodbye to All Future Events

One of the saddest parts of 2020 was having to cancel and reschedule events including concerts, sports events, school activities, and vacations. As restaurants, live games, and flights were canceled, many of us had to reconfigure how we would spend our summer vacations, Thanksgiving, and Christmas break, especially with older relatives at high risk.

The Earth Took a Break

Thanks to lockdowns, carbon dioxide emissions lowered dramatically around the world. According to a study from Nature Climate Change, compared with levels in 2019, daily carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 17%, the biggest drops in recorded history! Although this drop is not enough to undo the harmful effects caused to the earth, there is a lot to be learned about how we can reduce our carbon footprint as individuals and communities.

Sanitation at an All-Time High

It is widely known that washing your hands and keeping clean is important in protecting against germs and disease, but with COVID-19, remaining clean and sanitized has become the highest priority. Wherever I go, there is always either a sanitation stand for your hands or a spray bottle of disinfectant. Toilet paper, soap, and hand sanitizer had been sold out for weeks at the beginning of the year—and if you found a roll of toilet paper, that was like finding a rare treasure.

The Development of a Vaccine

Normally, a vaccine takes years to decades to develop. However, as thousands of people continued to lose loved ones to coronavirus in 2020, researchers all over the world began to prioritize developing a vaccine and managed to do so in under 12 months. Not only is this the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed, but it is also the first mRNA vaccine to be authorized for public administration. By March, clinical trials began in humans, and by the end of summer, the vaccines were ready for advanced trials. After promising results, the vaccines got emergency authorization by the FDA to be administered to the public. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been the highlight of 2020 and give us hope that this pandemic will end soon.

As we delve into another year of ambiguity, we must continue to practice self-care, focus on our goals, and remind ourselves this pandemic is not permanent. With a vaccine being rolled out across the world, we must remain hopeful that the world will reopen for business.

Mukobe Lukwesa

Washington '21

Mukobe Lukwesa is a senior majoring in cell & Molecular Biology at Central Washington University, and she is a writer for Her Campus CWU. Some of her hobbies include writing, cooking, science, and traveling. Along with her studies, she is also doing undergraduate research and is hoping to graduate in the spring of 2021.
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