On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared that Covid-19 coronavirus had reached world pandemic levels. Soon every thing in the United States was shut down.
Two days before that I drove out to Fairport Harbor in Lake County to give an in-person presentation entitled “Where’s Otto: How the Internet Helped Track Down 10 Members of an Immigrant Family.” My subject was the Nikkari family that immigrated from Finland in four voyages over 15 months in 1903 and 1904. I was speaking to about 40 Finnish-Americans at the Finnish Heritage Museum in Fairport Harbor. There were some comments among the attendees about the outbreak of this mysterious disease. As it turned out, there hasn’t been a monthly meeting of the Heritage Museum membership since then.
That event enables me to remember the date precisely when the pandemic shut everything down.
Another memorable event was being able to get appointments for my vaccine shots. Ohio residents of 80+ years of age qualified for vaccinations beginning on January 19, 2021. On the following Monday I was notified by the Cleveland Clinic that I qualified for a Covid 19 vaccination. I immediately signed up for an appointment for January 27.
I had to drive 30 miles to the Medina Hospital in the Cleveland Clinic system, one of the few Clinic facilities that I had not visited before. Between my health appointments and services, and those for my late wife, M.J., we had visited most of the Clinic facilities in Northeast Ohio.
Once at the hospital, I found everything well organized and I moved quickly through the process. With check-in, the actual vaccination, a 15-min timed wait to make sure there was no adverse reaction, and time spent scheduling the second vaccination, it only took about 45 minutes.
That week’s vaccination program was a continuation for Group 1b in Ohio, including health care workers and people over 80 years of age, which as I mentioned actually began a week before.
Here I am in a selfie with my mask and my vaccination record card.
I got my second shot of the Pfiser vaccine on February 17 at the same Medina hospital.
I consider myself lucky. I have not felt the effects of the pandemic personally, although I do know a few people who have had Covid 19 and recovered.
That is in drastic contrast to the almost 30 million confirmed cases of Covid 19 that have occurred in the United States — and the over 532,000 deaths.
My daughter is a teacher in New York state and she has been vaccinated. We are waiting for my son to be notified that he can schedule an appointment since people over 50 are now eligible to be vaccinated in Ohio.
I think back to my maternal grandfather who died in the spring of 1920 at the age of 39 after a prolonged illness. The cause of death on his death certificate was “unknown” because the pronouncing physician hadn’t treated him. But it may have been that he was a late victim of the Flu Pandemic of 1918. I’ll report on his circumstances in another post.