It’s been a year: After 12 months, Cordovans reflect on life under COVID

Female brown bear and cubs. Photo courtesy of Milo Burcham

March 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Since then, Cordova has closed, reopened and readjusted too many times to count. We asked Cordovans from all areas of society to share their thoughts on the past 12 months.

If you could travel back in time 12 months, what would you tell your past self?

“I would tell myself to remember what is important, always lead with grace and keep my head up. These are unprecedented times, and no one will get through unscathed, but we will get through it.” – Arissa Pearson, administrative assistant

“Stock up on favorite treats… you are going to need them.” – Helen Howarth, city manager

“Don’t waste time preparing for every possible schedule! Wait and wing it!” – Krysta Williams, teacher

“That your perspective on life is going to change hardcore and that change is a normal part of life. Embrace it.” – Jayleene Garrett, firefighter

“Don’t worry. You’re gonna be able to see your friends soon. The pandemic is going to end, and the world is not.” – Everleigh Mills, fourth grader

“Buy more Tesla stock, Bitcoin and 3A Halibut Quota. Buy less toilet paper.” – Ken Jones, business owner

What’s been the hardest part of the past year?

“Dealing with emotions. Trying to stay mentally positive when there are so many people hurting. People cope in healthy and not so healthy ways. Working so hard to get our business where it was and then having to revert to takeout was a big blow.” – Brian Wildrick, restaurant owner

“Not being able to gather together as a community has been the biggest hurdle for me. Whether it is church services, Iceworm or just getting together for a cup of coffee, this last year has taken from us so many ways to connect with one another. I’m thankful for the technology we have had to bridge that gap, but I still yearn to see people face to face again in large numbers.” – Mike Glover, pastor

“Balancing my COVID workload with my ‘regular’ workload. I gained a full-time job and my other work did not go away.” – Kari Collins, Native Village of Eyak health and wellness director

“Having to restrict my kids’ in-person interactions with their friends was really tough. I know it was the right thing to do and they completely understood the reasoning behind the social distancing. Regardless, my heart aches for the year they lost with friends and peers.” – Signe Fritsch, Prince William Sound Science Center development and communications manager

“Hardest part has been to take seriously some of the extreme views of social distancing and what it will take to get social life back on track.” – David Little, photographer

What was an unexpected bright spot during the last year?

“I loved developing working relationships with people I don’t normally talk to or work with routinely. The Medical Response Team Group has been great. There were times when we met daily and even more than once per day as we were planning and responding. It has been an honor to work with all of them.” – Kari Collins, Native Village of Eyak health and wellness director

“The fun folks had with their Cordova Cash cards.” – Helen Howarth, city manager

“I’ve appreciated the extra time with family and the creative ways my friends and I have found to stay connected. I’m especially grateful for the outside events that may turn into new traditions regardless of pandemic status.” – Krysta Williams, teacher

“The amount of time I get to spend with my children. Working from home and having school only open a few hours a day has allowed us to just be present together. They can come in and talk to me during the middle of my workday and I can stop and listen. This extra time together has strengthened our bond as a family.” – Arissa Pearson, administrative assistant

How would you rate the city’s handling of the pandemic?

“We moved here only a few months before COVID, but [my wife] and I both are so blessed to call ourselves Cordovans through this whole situation. The city has tried to apply the best science to its regulations, but the real stars have been members of community rising up to make masks and support each other, as well as our Medical Response Team who has been incredible with testing, tracing, and giving sound advice on how to get schools and businesses open as soon as possible.” – Mike Glover, pastor

“They’re doing a great job. The nurses and the hospitals are doing the best to keep everybody alive in Cordova because this is a small town.” – Maverick Kennedy, first grader

“The healthcare side of the city’s response has been phenomenal with the vaccine rollout to date being awesome so far. When I got my shot today it was a very smooth process… That being said, the whole pitchfork, burn people at the stake, and shut it down crowd have been disgusting, inexcusable and pathetic. Many in the community owe those who have contracted the virus and tested positive an apology for the public roastings, rumors, shaming, overall poor treatment and lack of compassion.” – Ken Jones, business owner

“Given the circumstances and lack of national and state leadership, I applaud the City of Cordova, the Cordova School District, and the medical community for their sensible, fact-based approach. The right decisions are not always easy to make and implement, but I am really, really proud of how well Cordova had weathered the pandemic.” – Signe Fritsch, Prince William Sound Science Center development and communications manager

“The city brought forth excellent guidelines that kept the city relatively safe. Well, the guidelines got confused by individuals not following the rules, and the issue was further confused with ‘workarounds’ which were in direct conflict with rules that were written and posted. Opportunities were lost. Fortunately, no one was hospitalized.” – Pete Hoepfner, fisherman

What are you most looking forward to doing, that you can’t do now because of the pandemic?

“Being able to have play dates with my friends again. And being able to hug my friends and not wear a mask.” – Everleigh Mills, fourth grader

“Going to ‘in-person’ meetings, celebrating accomplishments, and all the fun meals and good company that occurs in our beautiful small town. As well as returning to traveling and eating in restaurants.” – Pete Hoepfner, fisherman

“The ability to safely travel and have our own place open fully as well as be able to go out to restaurants elsewhere. I can’t wait to go to the beach!” – Brian Wildrick, restaurant owner

“I am looking forward to sitting in the homes of senior church members to catch up, and sharing full fellowship at church without masks and physical distancing.” – Mike Glover, pastor

“Going into buildings and not wearing a mask.” – Jayleene Garrett, firefighter

Have you picked up any new hobbies during the past year?

“I’ve been playing more guitar as well as fiddle.” – The Rev. Belle Mickelson

“Catnaps!” – Kari Collins, Native Village of Eyak health and wellness director

“I’m learning beatboxing. I love beatboxing.” – Maverick Kennedy, first grader

“I have started a new hobby of roasting my own coffee beans.” – David Little, photographer

“Does watching TV count?” – Helen Howarth, city manager