Contemplating Coronavirus 2020

by Maria on March 20th, 2020

Normally, my blog entries are written after events. I summarize the weather, the music and the attendance. I introduce new members and write about what went well, what caught us off guard and what made us laugh.

Unfortunately, this marching season has been anything but normal. Last weekend, we were booked to march two St. Patrick's Day parades: Saturday in Rochester and Sunday in Buffalo.
Thursday afternoon, we got word that the Rochester parade was canceled; shortly after, we heard that the Buffalo parade was canceled. Suddenly, a very busy weekend became a very empty weekend.

Why? Cases of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, were growing at an alarming rate. The Federal Government issued guidelines recommending that gatherings of people be limited to 500. If you think about all the places you go during the course of a week, that would be a pretty generous number. However, these parades attract thousands of people who stand close together to watch the parades and stand shoulder to shoulder in crowded bars to celebrate and socialize before and after the parade.

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued to grow, the Federal Government lowered the gatherings number to 250, then 50, then 10. More cancellations were announced: Honor Flight in April and the Lilac Festival in May.

These are just the events that affect Kelley's Heroes Marching Band. Hundreds of other events that affect millions of people have been canceled or postponed: high school classes, musicals, proms and sports events; college classes and graduations; church services and weddings; professional sports and entertainment; conferences and festivals. Stores are closed, workers are laid off. We know this must be a dire situation because the New York State Education Department canceled end-of-the-year standardized testing, the IRS extended the April 15 tax filing date by 90 days, and Disney closed its theme parks.

No one knows when it will be safe to gather in large crowds again. Estimates range from four weeks to four months. In the meantime, most people are staying home. Technology makes it possible for many to work or learn from home. Some of us are catching up on all those projects we never seem to have time to do. Others are trying new things: books, recipes and hobbies.

Are these changes temporary or permanent? When we can finally gather again in large groups, will people choose to return to their former activities - like marching band - or will they prefer to fill that time pursuing their new activities? We'll have to wait and see.

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