This project has been sponsored by
Martha’s Vineyard Community Services
Thanks for sharing your voices
On March 13, 2020, the novel coronavirus went from a distant concern to a full-fledged, in-our-backyard worry. The Island had not yet had its first case of COVID-19, but it was already feeling the effects.
Schools were shut down for what was initially expected to be two weeks, and cancellations began flooding into our email in-boxes faster than we could process them. Restaurants were told they would have to transition from in-person dining to “curbside pickup.” Virtually everything came to a crashing halt as we waited for the inevitable.
Zoom and quarantine became household words. Hugs and handshakes became taboo. And, suddenly and smartly, everyone was wearing masks and face coverings.
It’s been a long, strange year, where positive is actually negative — and negative comes with a positive sigh of relief. We went months with a case here and a few there, and were fortunate to avoid the types of hospitalizations and deaths seen elsewhere. But in late October through early February, the Island saw a dramatic increase in the number of cases, including some tied to clusters from a wedding, a prayer group, and a supermarket. Even the hospital had an outbreak, after its employees were vaccinated.
In the past 13 months, since reporting our first story on coronavirus on Feb. 12, 2020, we’ve published more than 1,000 stories. We’ve kept you up to date on what’s open, what’s closed, and daily, ever-changing news. Though we’ve always considered ourselves a highly digital workplace, we learned how to produce an entire print newspaper, our daily newsletter, and numerous magazines from our respective homes. To see the full breadth of our coverage, see our coronavirus timeline at mvtimes.com/coronavirus-timeline-2/.
We’ve lost more than 500,000 of our fellow Americans during this pandemic, but there is hope the worst is behind us. With three vaccines available, and the promise of enough supply to vaccinate the entire population by late spring or early summer, there is light at the end of that proverbial tunnel.
With this special section, we seek to acknowledge this most difficult year in our recent history through voices from the community, in their own words.
We spoke to Steve Bernier, owner of Cronig’s Markets, who was struck by COVID-19 in November and had to be airlifted off-Island to a Boston hospital where he, thankfully, recovered from the disease.
Joe Capobianco and Janay Dlabaj are among those who helped to feed the community’s most vulnerable through the Good Shepherd food basket program.
Lucy Hackney of Island Health Care told us what it’s been like to get the Island’s robust COVID-19 testing up and running.
And Harriet Bernstein let us in on how she stepped out of isolation and into the world of Zoom dancing, while Abigail McGrath reveals why she was an early doubter about the virus.
Andrea Guyther offered insight into what it was like to be a college student, while our own Alessandra Hagerty talked about juggling a professional career and her children’s hybrid education.
Remember when this all started, and seasonal residents took refuge on the Vineyard? Jeremy Driesen can tell you what it was like being looked at as an outsider after his many years living on the Vineyard seasonally — and even a few full-time. Russell Maloney, an Island Realtor, discussed the incredible spike in property sales as others found sanctuary on the Vineyard.
We also checked in with several Vineyarders who were in other parts of the world when COVID-19 arrived on the scene, and they shared their sometimes difficult journeys back to the Island.
We know there are many more stories out there. There is no one among us who hasn’t been affected by the ongoing pandemic. If you’d like to share your story, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re hoping that this time next year, when we look back, it will be to celebrate all the silver linings: the friendly faces we found on Zoom, the dancing in the living room, the deep gratitude for connections with family, friends, and co-workers. And we hope we’ll look back with appreciation for the life that bloomed again on our Island when we opened up our stores, our theaters, our galleries, and our homes in the spring of 2021 (not to jinx or anything …).
We’d like to thank Martha’s Vineyard Community Services for sponsoring this special section. We couldn’t bring you this sort of dedicated content without that kind of support. And we’d also like to thank them for their dedication to helping us out in so many ways this past year — feeding those of us who needed food, helping care for our children, and supporting those among us who needed a helping hand, whether we were lonely, or had relapsed from recovery, and just didn’t know what to do next. Thank you.
Jamie Kageleiry, associate publisher
George Brennan, editor