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Reflections on Weeks Past...

When the first novel coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the US and began to dominate the news cycle, were you alarmed, or relatively confident that we would be able to contain it?

Belmar boardwalk closed off, March 2020

Confident that we can contain it. - Lisa, Freehold

Considering the number of people who die from the regular flu annually, I was not that alarmed.

- Maureen, Matawan

I only started to realize the severity of this the few days leading up to our school closing. We had an emergency faculty meeting on Wednesday, March 11th, and after that point I started scrambling to organize myself, just in the crazy case of us having to close for a week or two. - Kevin, Spring Lake Heights

There are so many people saying so many things. I think that is why there is such panic.

- Bev, Neptune

Thoughts as people began to test positive in Monmouth County…

Sam's Club water line, March 14, 2020

We have a lot of people who commute to either NYC or Philly and they seemed to be more likely to be infected as these are both huge ports of entry to our area. - Erik, Middletown

Curiosity about the people's health came to mind and I wondered if they were all elderly or had compromised immune systems.

- Maureen, Morganville

I was becoming more concerned, but I had no idea that we would reach the level of having to shut down businesses and quarantine people to their homes. That seemed like something that would happen in fiction rather than reality. There appears to be this eerie feeling around going outside, like it's a large endeavor instead of the normal activity it typically is.

-Drew, Shrewsbury

What kind of behavior changes did you begin to notice in your community as a result of concerns over the virus?

Court Jester, Aberdeen, St. Patrick's Day 2020

I saw a huge wave of hysteria. People bought all of our toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap, aloe Vera, rubbing alcohol and requested gloves and face masks. - Alexandra, Englishtown (pharmacy employee)

Common sense disappeared. Everyone stockpiled everything. Eggs, weirdly enough, were impossible to find. Almost everything started to disappear, and people were acting like getting infected meant certain death.

- Carolyn Ann, Tinton Falls

The hoarding of toilet paper is still something I don't fully understand. I assume it was mentioned that you should be prepared to be "stuck" at home for a little while, but I don't know why this translated into people literally fighting over paper products. - Stephanie, Freehold

The community has rallied behind restaurants and their attempts to transition to take-out and delivery. Coaches, trainers, dance, music, and art instructors are all offering virtual sessions. Instead of heading to the gym, I'm dialing in to a Zoom meeting with my girlfriends to still work out and encourage each other. I'm in awe how innovative and creative we all are. - Rebecca , Middletown

In what ways have you been personally affected (for example, as a student, an employee, a professional, a business owner, or at home)?

DIY masks - Denise B.

I've never been more proud to be a healthcare worker, on the front lines of this crisis.

- Arthur, Freehold

Teaching virtually is difficult. Missing social cues, paying attention to students and how they feel is difficult. Trying to create a sense of structure and responsibility with some students isn’t working.

- Sarad, Little Silver

My senior year is pretty much over. We may not be able to have our senior prom or graduation ceremony which is extremely upsetting. The restaurant that I work at has been shut down so I have no income and am stressing about bills that I will need to pay. - Sophia, high school student

As a college student at Ramapo College, our dorms have been closed since an employee tested positive for COVID-19 on March 14, and online learning will take place until the governor mandates that it is safe enough to return. - Amanda, Bradley Beach

I'm a US Merchant Marine Officer and working on my ship in the Gulf of Mexico...We're practicing social distancing. Think what that is like on a ship, where you live with and work with the same people, 24-7, the whole time you're out there. No more than 3-4 people at a table when eating. Leave every other seat empty. Disinfect every touchable surface every 6 hours with bleach or Lysol. The thought of a COVID outbreak out here is frightening, as it would cripple the entire ship.

- John, Monmouth County resident

That I can't work at all. I can't get assistance financially because I am an independent contractor and don't make enough consistently.- Tara, Marlboro

What has surprised you the most about this event?

Susan K., Keyport

Everything. This is surreal. - Connor

How quickly the supply chain for, well, everything has been disrupted. This has exposed serious weakness in how we move goods on a global scale. It will be interesting to see what comes of it, if the lesson is learned.

- Mike, Brick

Rt. 537, Freehold

A concerted sense of altruism seems to be permeating the air. That's NICE. I just hope it remains after this is over. - Gilda, Red Bank

The numbers themselves aren’t outrageous when compared to the flu. It is the deaths of healthy fit people that are alarming.

- Maureen, Little Silver

The numbers of cases doubled almost every day when people were getting tested.

- Jane, high school student

Do you have a prediction for how this will play out in the next three months?

No, for no one does. They know nothing about this virus. They don’t know how to tame it. They don’t even know that if you had it are you immune or could you get it again…

- Susan, Keyport

I would like to predict that things will be under control in about 2 months and that our healthcare system was not overwhelmed because of social distancing but I do not really know if that will happen. I think there are still a lot of people out there not heeding guidelines for social distancing. - Lynne, Marlboro

According to what experts are saying it seems like we'll still be experiencing this over the next 3 months. I am hoping that the state lockdown isn't in effect for that long though and that businesses can begin operating in some capacity over that time. - Drew, Shrewsbury

Any words of wisdom that might help us through a difficult time such as this?

This too shall pass. Take this time to enjoy nature and your family. You actually have the time now to stop and smell the roses. - Lauren, Freehold

Keep smiling, Laugh a little, Facetime with your family, take as many precautions as possible but as my grandmother would say, "Janie, look on the bright side." The sun is still shining. - Jane, Marlboro

From postponed weddings to canceled vacations, to just a quick shift into a world with no routine, the thing that's constant is that we are all trying to navigate this "new normal" together. We can support each other (from at least 6 feet away, of course) and get through this together - Stephanie, Freehold

Take it one day at a time. Follow all CDC recommendations on physical distancing and disinfecting. Stay connected to those you love. Support those less fortunate than you. - Jim, Belmar

What have you or your family been doing at home to adapt to the social distancing guidelines?

Relocated college dorm rooms!

My two college-aged sons are now back home finishing up this semester. We decided to put up signs in their room to pretend that they are still "at school". We also put up signs regarding the dining hall hours and what's playing for movie night. - Pati, Neptune


Remembering COVID-19 was designed to document this crisis in phases as Monmouth County continues to experience it. As we read some of the Phase One responses from the past three weeks, it seems so long ago. We have since been inundated with changes and new information, and it is almost hard to remember that many of us were unconcerned. That's why we need your help to document the everyday details and reflections that will be hard to remember many years from now! Please consider contributing your responses, images and videos regularly as Phase Two begins. Tell your family and friends. Send us images and videos of what you see around you during this historic event, the effects of social distancing, and especially the fun and creative things your family is doing at home to adapt to quarantine! Be an at-home photo and video journalist…it will become history before you know it!

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