When Americans entered the new year, they left behind the deadliest year in U.S. history, with the coronavirus killing more than 350,000 people. For many Valley Streamers, 2020 was the most challenging year of their lives, they said.
With the loss of lives, jobs and normalcy, many said they are hoping for better days ahead.
“I never liked talking on the phone, but during this pandemic, I’ve been isolated many times, and I’ve learned that I need to call people whenever I have a wave of sadness and frustration,” Valley Streamer Janet Miserandino said. “Phone calls bring me joy because I can hear other people talk about their plight during the pandemic, which helps me to remember that I’m not alone. I plan to stay connected with people through phone calls even more in the new year.”
Miserandino said that with the recent surge in coronavirus cases, she has again had to retreat indoors to protect herself and her family.
“I have a daughter who is immunocompromised with a weakened immune system, so we have to be careful not to go out too often in order to protect her from the virus,” she said. “My daughter hasn’t been out of the house for nine months, and I’ve gone out periodically to do more things than she has and I’m stir crazy.”
Miserandino will turn 70 in June, and said he hopes to celebrate with a cruise. She also hopes to have a party in May for her 50th wedding anniversary, but despite the introduction of vaccines against the virus in December, she worries that the pandemic may still pose a threat in late spring or early summer.
“I’m hoping the Covid-19 vaccines will work, and I want me and my husband, who are senior citizens, to be able to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said. “I’m more nervous about the virus than I am about the vaccine because a lot of people worked in conjunction to make these vaccines happen. More manpower made it possible for the vaccines to be made this fast, and I just want to see a sense of normalcy in the new year.”
Rinaldo Crespo said he plans to focus on home improvement in the new year. It helps him feel more positive, he said.
“I want to replace windows, close creaks in the floor boards, change doorknobs and put fresh coats of paint on my walls because every little bit helps to lift the spirit,” he said. “I believe in fixing small areas in life to help with your emotions. It makes you feel good. These things bring joy and a sense of accomplishment.”
Crespo, a self-described introvert who enjoys spending time at home, said the pandemic hasn’t hurt him as much as his wife and daughter, who typically enjoy going out and socializing.
“My wife is a teacher, and she misses in-person interactions with her students, and my daughter is an only child now, so quarantining has been hard on her, but I think if people do their part by wearing masks and quarantining, things will get better in the new year,” he said. “I haven’t had anyone get sick that I know personally, so I’m not jumping to quickly get vaccinated.”
Valley Stream resident and artist Mike Stanko said 2020 was a difficult and scary year for him because many of his loved ones were sickened by Covid-19. However, he has been able to remain mostly optimistic because he said he has goals to focus on in the new year, such as supporting more local shops and eateries.
“It’s always so sad to see boarded-up storefronts on our main streets, and with the pandemic, it’s been worse because far too many of our favorite places went out of business,” Stanko said. “I’ve got my eye on a few new places ready to open on Rockaway Avenue that I look forward to supporting this year.”
Stanko said he also looked forward to the Covid-19 vaccines becoming more widespread, bringing a return to normalcy and ending his constant worries about the safety of his family members and friends.
“If my doctors feel safe and they’re taking the Covid-19 vaccines, so will I, because they’re the professionals,” he said. “The sooner we get back to being safe and normal, the better, because once the virus is behind us, we can begin to rebuild our communities by supporting small businesses.”
Others on social media also said they hoped the vaccines would end the pandemic in 2021.
“My New Year’s resolution is to get vaccinated and get that feeling of being comfortable with hugging all my family and loved ones again,” Valley Streamer Anastasia Tanton said.
“When things get back to normal, I want to be more social with everyone and give lots of hugs and kisses,” Theresa Goldbach said.
“I hope to continue to support local businesses since those were the ones who suffered the most during the pandemic,” Jennifer Kessler wrote.
Valley streamers Kristen Devoe and Christine Jacobson said they hoped to lose some of the weight they gained while stuck indoors for the past nine months.
With the financial devastation of the pandemic continuing, however, at least a few said they worried how and when they would recover.
Valley Stream resident Susan Kaye was working in customer service at Nassau Coliseum when she was laid off in March, and despite government assistance and working part-time retail jobs, she has struggled to make ends meet.
“It’s been difficult because there’s a lot of things I want to do, and there are only jobs available in retail, which barely give any hours for people to work and survive,” she said, noting that after getting a job at a Stop & Shop in Hempstead, she was only able to work 16 hours a week. “I won’t survive working 16 hours a week or less, and my hope is that [President-elect] Biden will straighten out this mess in this new year.”