On the eve of COVID-19, we really didn’t see it coming, the black spring ahead, nor two years of lockdowns, face masks and vaccines. In pictures, this is the way we were, from January 21st, date of the first U.S. coronavirus case and March 13th, 2020, the day President Trump declared a national emergency.
by David Stone
The Roosevelt Island Daily News
On the Eve of COVID-19
We celebrated Black History Month with tradition, featuring art by people of color at RIVAA Gallery. RIOC collaborated with the community for the event. It was the last for at least three years.
As yet undamaged by a reckless RIOC “remake,” Southpoint welcomed visitors before most leaves got started in green. The shoreline, full of trees and grass, was still safe harbor for countless species making homes there.
Some things were bound to get better. The old Riverwalk Bar & Grill sat idle, but Granny Annie’s would soon make the space better than ever. The new owners weathered the battering pandemic, coming out as a local favorite.
As storm clouds gathered, Nancy Dagostino brought a Foodtown welcome to the CBN/RI Senior Center. Receiving the gift bag was local historian Judy Berdy, but this was March 13th.
Later that day, President Trump declared a national emergency as the country tumbled into the first black spring of COVID-19 in 2020. The senior center would soon shutdown as deaths climbed and lockdowns swelled.
The first cherry blossoms were oblivious on the eve of COVID-19. Blossoming along the East Promenade, they played nature’s ironic message. You can’t stop spring, but it can change.
And before the first face mask rules or the terrible death toll, kids still played basketball outdoors in the early, warming days of March.
On the other side of the East River, on Manhattan’s bigger island, high rise construction continued in Chelsea. Everyone was still coming to work, and Eighth Avenue was filled with cars. A month later, this would be an urban wasteland, abandoned against the wave of coronavirus.
Winter in FDR Four Freedoms State Park was still an urban refuge, drawing visitors under the web of trees. Throughout the pandemic, it never ceased playing the role it played on the eve of COVID-19.
Eight seasons passed, and everyone was welcome.
On February 7th, 2020, Foodtown welcomed Roosevelt Islanders at its grand opening. The switch away from Gristedes was welcomed, but then, the pandemic smothered sales as the store grappled with never before seen challenges.
As we now know, Foodtown survived, showing great care and leadership in its new community throughout.
In Central Park, spring blossomed early.
In mid-February, while we still hoped that the pandemic would easily pass, crabapple trees under the helix brought the first outbreak of spring green.
On the day the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S., a newcomer, Joann Livia kicked off a Be Well campaign at the Cornell Tech café. Her plan was introducing new visitors to healthy delights. Here, it’s blueberry chia.
It was the eve of COVID-19, and nobody saw the black spring coming.
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