Join 23ABC Thursday night at 7 p.m. for our special report looking back on COVID-19: One Year Later.

It might feel like a lifetime ago since we were able to live without the thought of getting sick or wearing a mask. Changes hit businesses hard, as they went through a battle to keep their doors from closing for good.

“We direct a statewide order for people to stay at home,” said Governor Gavin Newsom last year.

The warnings about COVID-19 were fast and frequent as state leadership to local congressmen addressed the public.

“Be a good neighbor. Be a good citizen. Those young people who are still out there on the beaches, thinking this is a party, time to grow up,” said Newsom.

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“It is our priority as we try to contain the spread of this virus,” added Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

The pandemic became political and Zoom turned into a new way to teach. The coronavirus took a toll on not only people’s physical health but their mental health as well. Underlying factors turned COVID-19 deadly for some patients here in Kern County.

COVID-19: One Year Later

Businesses were severely impacted by the pandemic. The transition to working from home started and some industries were able to adapt while others weren’t. The U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 14.8 percent back in April of 2020. During this same time, unemployment in Kern County also peaked at roughly 19 percent.

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The pandemic wasn’t just a public health issue, it turned political. Politics seemed to play a role in shaping the public’s perception of the virus, with many leaders scrutinized for their response to the crisis.

“It’s dominated everything, whether it’s the news, whether it’s our personal lives, or whether it’s politics over the last year,” explained Allen Bolar, a Political Science Professor at Bakersfield College.
Added BHS political science teacher Jeremy Adams: “People argued that Gavin Newsom wanted to remake California and he was going to use this crisis to do it. Some people didn’t wear masks as a political statement on the right.”

One of the biggest impacts caused by the coronavirus was the toll on kids and their education. Schools were forced to close and nearly a year later some kids haven’t been back in a classroom since.

“I remember calling the student body up and going, okay guys, we have to shut down for two weeks, I’ll see you back in two weeks, and now looking back I would have handled that so much differently,” said one teacher.

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The pandemic changed the way that we educate our children in schools as well as how students learn. Almost overnight Kern County schools had to completely shift their curriculum to being completely online.

Public health officials said that of the over 1,000 people who have died because of COVID-19 most of them were men. That accounts for roughly 60 percent of the deaths. Women make up the other 40 percent. When it comes to race, Hispanic people were more likely to die from COVID-19 in Kern County. They make up roughly 60 percent of the deaths. White people follow with about 30 percent and African-Americans and people identifying as another race make up the remaining percentage.

One of the biggest things the pandemic has impacted comes in the form of our mental health. Students not being in class, businesses closing, lifestyles changing all caused some mental health concerns. Think about when you realized the pandemic was something real. Something big. And something that wasn’t going away any time soon. Even in those moments none of us could have predicted just how big of an impact COVID-19 would and still does have on our mental health.

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“Depression, anxiety, stress, worry everything exacerbating on top of the situation we’ve had to go through the last 12 months,” said Stacy Kuwahara, KBHRS Behavioral Health Director.

2020 was hard for a lot of people. But many were able to find their silver lining during the pandemic. People came up with ways to spread a little joy throughout the community. Car parades, drive-thru’s, and distance celebrations were very popular during the last year as was the chance to work from home or just “get away from it all.”

It was a year that none of us will forget.



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