• Rachel R

A Look Back At The Year of COVID

It has officially been a year since Governor Inslee heeded the scientist’s advice to shut down our state and put a Shelter in Place order in effect. It was intense and scary to think there was a virus out there killing people, especially one we knew nothing about.

Let us go back to January of 2020. Snohomish County in Washington state is where I live, it is also where the first case if COVID-19 popped up in the whole country. We didn’t know what it was or how dangerous it could be, and to be honest even as they were reporting on it we assumed it wouldn’t be a big deal. The patient zero lived, but even with him isolated within the hospital new cases started to pop up all around us.

Back to the day that Gov. Inslee shut everything down. I own a dog walking and pet sitting business and in March we are gearing up for our busy season. Spring break thru Labor Day we work 6-7 days a week caring for people’s pets. Not in 2020. We immediately started to have our clients cancel as they were going to be working from home. In about a 24-hour period we lost 70% of our clients. We tried to stay hopeful as we still had a full spring break calendar, but then travel was restricted and those cancellations came pouring in.

It was traumatic to say the least. I had to try to keep my mom and my staff safe and employed with no clients and little to no help from the government. We ended up putting our employee on stand-by hoping that after 3 weeks we would be able to get back to normal. By the time we had to bring our employee back we had lost 90% of our clients.

By the beginning of summer I started to realize we may not survive this. We decided to reduce our costs as much as we could, so we shut down our online store. We stopped buying specialty treats, and printing pictures of the pets for birthdays and pet of the month and made the difficult choice to permanently lay off our employee. We managed to get a loan from the PPP program but that only bought us 30 days. I was and still am so pissed that small businesses inches from shutting down only had loans as an option to keep our doors open. The government should have provided grants for us considering it is a damn global pandemic. Then there is the fact that the trump administration mishandled the PPP program so horrendously. Knowing that I got so little when Kanye West’s businesses were getting millions of unneeded dollars infuriates me even more. There was more funding funneled to large corporations and “small” businesses owned by millionaires and billionaires than to actual struggling small businesses across the nation. Not super surprising considering trump only cares about himself and his rich friends but still just absolutely abhorrent.

We ran out of money In July and ended up shutting down at the end of that month. We ran through our emergency savings, tax savings and my personal money leaving us no choice. It was devastating. I never imagined that something so wildly out of my control would end my dream. I took some time to try to figure out what I was going to do and how I was going to move on. I could not move on. I decided to just wait and hope we could reopen. We are still waiting.

I have to say that as we were shutting down we had some of our clients share how much they appreciated us, which meant a lot. We always wanted our clients to feel like family, to know they could count on us. So, when we had so many cancel and not reach out at all over the last year was incredibly hurtful. We cancelled our personal plans and went above and beyond for all our clients only to have them drop us like a hot potato. We still haven’t heard from over half of them. It taught us to not get so attached to the pets, we miss them so much it hurts. It was and is a lot to deal with. In the blink of an eye dogs and cats we got overly attached too, some we helped raise from puppies, were no longer a part of our world. It was a lot of loss. It is a lot of loss.

I also have to say that this pandemic would have been a great time for trump to become a leader and do the work necessary to keep us safe. He made the decision every single day to lie to us and to say stupid shit that put people in serious danger. He could have been the savior of the people and prove that he could handle his job but instead basically just quit trying. He made every wrong choice possible and refused to recognize what was going on all around him. He kept being openly racist and pushed his ignorant, fear mongering agenda like nothing was happening. He failed the American people, and still has the balls to act like he didn’t.

So much has gone on in the last year it is going to take a long time to work through the emotions around it. I feel grateful that my Dad is almost fully vaccinated and that my mom will be eligible by the end of the month. It will be a relief to know that they are safe. I will be able to hug my dad and hand out with him inside. After my mom gets vaccinated I will be free to see my younger brother and his wife. We will be able to work on getting enough clients to reopen. Things are looking up and I am cautiously hopeful for summertime.

Thank goodness we elected an actual Leader who is doing his best to fix the mess of the last administration while pushing forward. May the next pandemic not be politicized. May the people in this country come back to reality so we can work together to move forward. May 2021 be better and 2022 be a new normal. May the filibuster be removed or reformed so that the government will actually have to govern. May we all heal from the trauma so as to not pass it down. Let us move past violence towards peace.

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