How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

By: Emmanuel Jaquez
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How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

It’s been over two years since the start of the pandemic. People throughout the globe have been struggling with the changes brought about by COVID. Teachers, first responders, students, and hospitality workers have gone through ups and downs since 2020. Different industries have different perspectives on what changes came about throughout the pandemic.

Nya Castro, Holiday Inn Employee

How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

“I work front desk at the Holiday Inn Express in Stony Brook. I also do a night audit, so that’s overnight, and I process all the reports, and I make sure all the numbers add up. We barely disinfected everything before COVID. Now, after COVID, we just do it to try to do a better job at it, so you know where to use stronger chemicals and stuff like that. We are wiping down surfaces more in terms of policy. Our housekeeping staff now It’s by request since, you know, you don’t want people going into your room now. It’s mostly just minor policies like we try not to have anybody who’s not a registered guest in the guest part of the hotel that’s not the lobby. So like food delivery people, we try to have them stay in the lobby area just so we can keep the guest area for guests. So before, like all the mandates were lifted, the hotel industry was hit hard with travel restrictions and things like that. With everybody getting COVID, you know the hotel industry took a hit. But now since everything‘s opening up, we’re seeing a big overflow, so a lot more than normal just because everybody is like now that I can travel, I’m going to.They are doing this in a time where they usually wouldn’t. You have all the weddings that are happening now that weren’t happening throughout the two years, so now we’re seeing a lot of weddings and families flying in. We’re seeing a drastic increase now.”

Students from around Long Island have been feeling the blunt end of the stick when it comes to education during COVID. Jasmine Watson, a senior at Stony River University, shares her thoughts two years after the start of the pandemic

Jasmine Watson, Stony River University Student

How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

“Honestly, things have changed a lot since I first started. I’ve actually been here since 2017, so it’s like, I went from two years of basically seeing people’s faces and living on campus and going to classes to just everything suddenly being virtual. I still remember people moving off-campus at short notice, and it’s really interesting to think about how two years later, things are more or less normal with masks. I think overall a positive is that people are a lot more aware healthwise. Like as you can see, people are still wearing masks, even though the mask mandate is down. People still don’t wanna get sick, so like masks aren’t normalized, there’s still a lot of sanitation everywhere. It’s kind of easier to connect with people since it’s not like everything’s not virtual anyway, so there’s not like a whole bunch of awkwardness when approaching a person anymore. As for negatives, I would say online schooling was a negative, but it’s more of a neutral kind of thing. It wasn’t bad at first because it was kind of convenient for me. However, doing it for a year straight, I was burnt all the way out.I see people who still wear their masks. I’m one of those people who’s kind of like half-and-half depending on what’s convenient. So I see everyone’s choosing their own thing, and I think that’s what’s making people happy. Honestly, these last two years were kind of wild, but we made it through. I don’t think things will ever be normal again, but I think things will be different, and I think that’s good.”

Teaching during the pandemic was a new experience for all. Transitioning to online learning meant that students and teachers had to adapt to the current circumstances. Stony Brook University Teacher Assistant Adrian Marquez at shared his insight into the last two years of COVID. 

Adrian Marquez, Teacher Assistant at Stony Brook University

How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

“Well, I think that now we are returning to normal slowly, but it was hard the first two semesters. We were online and transitioning to the Zoom world. I think that it affects a lot in the interactions and the participation in class and the interaction between classes, teachers, and students in the class. It was clearly a problem in the year of COVID. The room also affects the graduate students, like in my case I had to move from the place I was living to another place and return. It also affects how you prepare the classes and I work for my Ph.D. So I hope that in this year, the normalcy starts to be realized on campus. To have more gatherings with the communities of scholars from different departments to help make the easy transition with people to talk and communicate because this is the real University experience here at Stony Brook and other places of the world. [The University experience] is to be with others and to learn and participate in other activities. In the semester that I taught on Zoom, I was teaching a class about about mother Latin America it was at 9 a.m., so you could imagine that maybe the students just woke up and didn’t want to turn on the camera because maybe some of them were in bed in their houses in the rooms. It’s difficult to say, ‘Student, please turn on your camera,’ because I want to see your face when it’s 9 a.m. and you’re at home. It was complicated but I think that we were almost flexible as TAs and the professors with the students in general with the class. Still, I think that it was an experience that we should not repeat. It was something that was an emergency, but it’s something that we can learn that we have the endurance to go through all this.”

First responders have helped a tremendous amount in evaluating sick patients throughout the pandemic. Joseph Gonell, an EMT at Port Jefferson and a patient transporter at Mather hospital, shared his experiences two years after the pandemic.

Joseph Gonell, EMT & Patient Transporter

How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

“I think overall, COVID has gotten better with the introduction of the vaccines, and everyone has been getting their boosters. You know, I feel like working in healthcare is always just humbling because you’re seeing people on their worst days, and you get to be a part of their recovery. Well, I think we already have started to ease back into normalcy with the mask mandates being lifted. I think there will always be that fear that everyone has of you know, just from seeing what COVID has done in the past. Still, I think we’re approaching more normalcy probably within the next year or two years. I think Long Island has changed as much as any other region has changed in the United States. I think we’ve all been affected pretty harshly by the pandemic. The pandemic has changed the way doctors have been communicating with patients. Now telehealth is becoming extremely popular, especially with the risk of seeing COVID patients constantly. Now it’s a lot more online diagnosing and more like phone calls, stuff like that. I think everyone has been very receptive to the COVID vaccines. I haven’t heard much disapproval from it. The number of COVID patients that I see daily now has decreased dramatically. There are no COVID patients in the ER. Especially as an EMT, I’m not having any pandemic calls or fever chills responses. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a COVID patient. I think people are more conscious of their overall well-being and overall health. People are taking care of themselves more and are just more educated about diseases and such.”

Working in healthcare has its ups and downs. With COVID ravaging communities, many nurses struggled to meet demand. Anna Abarca, a nurse, working at Sun River Health for over a decade shares her thoughts two years after COVID.

Ana Abarca, Sun River Health Nurse

How Are Long Islanders Doing Two Years After the Pandemic Changed Our World?

“Oh, things have changed drastically… The way care is being given now is through telemedicine instead of face-to-face. That was one of the biggest changes we had encountered during COVID. We were very short staffed with people being very sick or people leaving. It was a big thing where people were leaving their jobs either because it was hard to be home with the kids or sick. It’s been a lot. Nursing has been very challenging for the past two years or so. Everything has gone out of hand with prices going up. As far as nursing, it’s a career that has become unappreciated since the pandemic. Once we were called heroes, you do what you have to do and don’t complain. The attitude among nurses has changed. A lot of nurses have been feeling very underappreciated and overworked. There are a lot of nurses. When you’re speaking to them, they’ll tell you the same thing, nursing isn’t what it used to be anymore. The passion nurses would want to serve the patient is all that has changed dramatically. It’s taking a toll on everyone, not just physically. This is a situation where we all have to learn how to deal with it. In mental health, which is a big issue not only in Long Island but worldwide, we have to just kind of work around the situation. We will get through, it will take a while. At the same time, we need to learn how to take better care of ourselves, take better care of each other, and appreciate what we have. We need to keep moving forward. We can’t let this stop us from what we want to do to live the life you want to live. You have to take one day at a time.”

Emmanuel Jaquez

Emmanuel Jaquez

Being a college student is hard, but knowing that hard work will pay off is one of my primary motivations. I earned a journalism associate's degree at Suffolk County Community College. I am currently on track to achieve my bachelor's degree at Stony Brook University by 2022.

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