Travelling in December 2020 and January 2021

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Travelling in December 2020 and January 2021

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I remember first hearing about COVID-19 in January of 2020. There were concerning reports that Chinese authorities were wielding apartment doors shut to contain the virus, which was certainly a bad sign, and I was fairly certain that if those measures were being taken, the disease was a big deal. I followed the developments fairly closely from my parents' home in Oklahoma. In late March, around the time of my 21st birthday, I was working as a substitute teacher at the high school I graduated from. I was able to work one singular day before the virus shut down the school district. The next few months were full of changes. Uniformed National Guard personnel staffed vaccination centers, groceries were delivered directly to houses, and entire industries went work-from-home. By the time December rolled around, the initial panic had mostly died down, and many travel restrictions were lifted. I needed a break. I decided to catch a ride with a buddy of mine from Indiana who just so happened to have family here in Tulsa. I bought a plane ticket to facilitate my return trip. We have some mutual friends in Zionsville, a little suburb of Indianapolis, and we collectively decided that we wanted to have a New Years party. Here in suburban Oklahoma, many of the mask mandates had been dropped by this point, but it was still prudent to carry a mask in the somewhat rare event that a business owner preferred patrons cover their faces. It was much the same in Zionsville, but businesses in Indianapolis proper, in my experience, were much more strict. I understood that COVID-19 was a serious health risk, and that it was smart to wear a mask, but it was somewhat confusing to go from a place that seemed so carefree - and admittedly irresponsible - to a place that was still mandating face coverings. The party with my friends went well and many margaritas were consumed. It was a much-needed break. The locations with the strongest COVID restrictions were perhaps the airports. It made sense to me, since airline travel likely contributed a great deal to the initial spread of the disease. Regardless of reasonability, masks were worn the entire duration of the flight. The entire cabin smelled of sanitation wipes, and the airport felt somewhat emptier than I was used to. This was Indianapolis' airport. I had a layover in Dallas and that Airport felt much more lively, in that sort of carefree way I was accustomed to back in Oklahoma. Masks were still required on the plane itself. I landed back home late in the evening without too much excitement. It was nice to take my mask off when I got into my mom's car. Overall, the trip made me realize that different states and regions were treating the ongoing pandemic very differently. While New Years was a welcome break from the monotony of the initial quarantine year, the trip did raise questions about my state government's commitment to public health and safety.

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This item was submitted on March 14, 2024 by Conner Linthicum using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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