Sarah Kudrick


Sarah Kudrick


College students


March-May 2020


Looking back on the covid-19 pandemic, it really feels like it snuck up from behind me and caught me (and a lot of other people) by surprise. In retrospect, I distantly remembering hearing footsteps behind me, in the weeks and months before anything in my community began to change, but they had seemed so distant to me. There were news articles about a virus in China, but they weren’t stories, and they had little information to report that seemed interesting to me. They all had the same picture of a spiky, multicolored microbe. There was two names being thrown around, Covid and corona, and that made it confusing. The articles all mentioned a city far away in China that I’d never heard of. I assumed it was being reported because of how it affected China, and therefore, China’s economy, and by extension, the US economy. But eventually the articles got slightly more juicy, and mentioned places closer to home, and honestly I feel like in the blink of an eye, everything had changed.
It seemed so sudden because it was so sudden. It was Thursday and I was talking to my one friend. She likes to gossip but also has an uncanny ability to just know things before everyone else, the kinds of things that aren’t her business but are everyone’s business. She told me that around three thirty, they were going to send out an email that they were closing school for two weeks and we would have to go home. I could not believe her. I had to chalk it up to her gossipy side. There was no way that could be true. But I still was thinking about it and wondering about it when I went to my class. Then that class ended and so did my semester in-person at Saint Vincent. I read the email and couldn’t believe it. It seemed sort of serious, in theory, in its scope, but to us it felt like a very extreme, sudden snow day. Serious but not our problem. And to us it meant unexpected freedom. I walked back to my dorm and there were kids playing on the football field, playing music and lounging on the hill in front of Rooney, and talking in the lobby. And there were some seniors worried and some freshman trying to figure out how they’d get to their homes out of state, but no one was worried, because it was only for two weeks.
Other schools closed around the same time we did. Public schools and churches closed. Other countries started going into lockdowns, and they were on the news, and then we were in lockdown. Everybody was trying to figure out what the death rate of the virus was. For a split second, people suggested bumping elbows or toes instead of shaking hands, but then we were supposed to be in our homes or at the grocery store, six feet away from everyone else, and no other places. We wondered how sever lockdown would become; would we be like France and need papers to go out? We all expected it to last a couple months, roughly. Then we started worrying that the lockdown could last much, much longer than that. Articles we read influenced everything. I googled “westmoreland county coronavirus” all the time to keep track of the number of cases, and I longed for a tally by zip code. They were so secretive about who had it, and while I understand that a hundred percent, I was worried. I even started checking obituaries to see if I could figure out who had died from it. I felt bad, but I also learned stuff about seniors in our area, and that was slightly cool. My understanding of the lockdown rules was that I would follow them above and beyond almost always, so that I could slightly bend them once or twice a month. I did see friends, twice during the lockdown, and during and after both times, I was so paranoid. My friends had been freely roaming this whole time, but my elderly grandmother eats dinner with us every night and spends a lot of time with our family.
I got tested once, after I’d had the slightest stuffy nose for about a week. I didn’t have it, and while the test sounds scary, and I was prepared to experience a Terrible discomfort, it really isn’t as bad as pulling out one of your nose hairs. I think getting a medical procedure done in the drivers seat of your car makes it less daunting. The swab is much smaller and be diet than a q tip, which is what I had pictured.
I feel like everyone recovered from their fears and concerns about coronavirus very quickly. I feel like even though we’re all still reading the articles that say things will be different for years to come- classes will be hybrid in-person and online, and they won’t play music in stores because they want people to be able to hear each other from farther away. But it’s summer now, and people are doing summer things, and so am I. We’re all excited to come back out of the woodwork. And for me, I’m lucky enough to live in a rural area that very much seems to have the virus under control and out of public places. But I have a feeling more people will get sick. But I think we’re all less freaked out now, because I don’t think it will become a bigger catastrophe at this point.


“Sarah Kudrick,” Pandemic 2020: An SVC Covid-19 Public History Project, accessed February 2, 2023,

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