COVID-19 Pandemic: People Adjusting in Spite of Hardships

| April 6, 2020

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – As life continues to change during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, people are adjusting in different ways – from money struggles to not being able to visit elderly parents to accepting the uncertainty of the future.

“I have been living day-to-day,” Dan King told exploreVenango.com last week. “I have been in self-quarantine since I got home from gallbladder removal surgery a couple of weeks ago. I am one of the people who are in their 60s who has a pre-existing condition.”

Life is hard right now, according to Megan Walk.

“We have no money to support ourselves, and grocery stores are empty of most necessities,” Walk said. “It’s like a daily fight when we go to the store because someone always had the last package of what we need in their cart. Rent and bills still have to be paid, and most everyone is laid off. Unemployment says there is no waiting week, but it still takes a week to accept your claim. We, the people, need help at this time. But all we’re getting is denial.”

According to Carol Cyphert, most of the things in her life haven’t changed, but there are some exceptions.

“I’m not able to visit mom in the nursing home,” Cyphert said. “And, I don’t eat out as much. I sure wish we had more sunshine so I could work out, though.”

The biggest change for Pamela McBride has been not being able to visit her mother in the nursing home and/or hospital.

“My mother is 83 and in a nursing home,” McBridge said. “I would visit at least six nights a week. They stopped visits a couple of weeks ago. Now, she has been taken to the hospital with CHF, and they stopped visits there. I haven’t been able to see or hug her. My heart is breaking that she has to go through this alone. I should be with her.”

A couple out for walk wear protective masks on a warm afternoon in Pittsburgh, Sunday, April 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Christine Moore said she is more of an introvert, so the change isn’t as sudden for her.

“I would rather say home, relax, and recharge than go out to a party, do people still party, any day, even a normal day,” Moore said.

Alex Efremenko told exploreVenango.com that aside from shortages, his family is alright.

“It’s been like an endless weekend for us,” Efremenko said. “We’re getting things cleaned up around our place. We have a farm, and we’re grateful to live as we live. We budget and save for emergencies like this, and we are debt-free. It is a major blessing to not have to worry about money during these times. There are enough other things to be concerned about. I feel for others not so fortunate. We’ve been there. This will pass. Do the best you can and be as nice to people as you can.”

People who have weddings planned and those who support those plans are facing different dilemmas.

“I’m a wedding and portrait photographer,” Alexa Marquis said. “My business came to a screeching halt when the shutdowns started. A big piece of my income comes from spring weddings, and with a lot of them either getting postponed or canceled and normal sessions having to be canceled, it’s been a bit scary for us.”

Erica Smyers said she might have to cancel or postpone her wedding, but she is trying to stay positive.

“Worse things could be happening,” Smyers said. “So, it’s okay.”

For some folks who are retired, life pretty much has stayed the same.

“We are retired,” Vickie Pinkerton said. “Our life involved grocery shopping, doctor appointments, pharmacy runs, car maintenance. Nothing has changed other (than not) going to church and eating out. We do limit contact when we make the necessary trips.”

Katasha Kessler is missing things she usually is able to enjoy.

“I can’t go out shopping for fun,” Kessler said. “I can’t take my nephew to places like Fun Central or the park, we have to play at home. Things are getting boring. It’s a PTSD for me from when I was in a bad car wreck and all I did was stay home wearing my cast and sling. All I did was cry every day.”

While staying at home has been tough, Kessler said there are also some benefits.

“(My previous experience) helped me learn not to spend money as I used to,” Kessler said. “I am glad I am ok for a rainy day, but this also makes you realize what is important and what is not. God bless and hope we can all get through this.”

For Chelsey Hillwig, a senior at A-C Valley High School, the uncertainty of it all is hard for her.

“Being a senior at A-C Valley, and really anywhere at this point, this has truly been a hard change,” Hillwig said. “Not only with spring sports season already being canceled and/or postponed (the PIAA has yet to make a decision on spring sports), but other things like prom, senior trips and other fun ‘last’ activities are threatened as well.

“Although I believe we all will get to graduate, there is still the fear of the steps we will have to take in order to do so or even if we will get to walk across the stage in front of faculty, family and friends. It stinks, but we are getting through it, especially since we aren’t able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Concerns about school are also on the mind of Reji Lashinsky.

“I go to a hands-on technical school in Pittsburgh,” Lashinsky said. “Obviously, I had to come home because of the virus. Online learning isn’t bad, but we can’t do any of the hands-on learning. Now, Pittsburgh is on a lock down, so we don’t even know when we can get back to school.

“It’s rough and really nerve-wracking.”


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