By: Emma Carriker
COVID-19 has been impacting our daily lives for months now with no sign of stopping anytime soon. Since New Jersey was one of the top states when the outbreak first started in March, we were hit pretty badly. The Caldwells felt the devastating effects of the big outbreak and it has changed our community in some ways we will never forget.
One of the biggest hits our community took was within the Caldwell-West Caldwell school system. The tragic loss of Grover Cleveland Middle Schools beloved principal, James Brown, undoubtedly shook the community. At only 48 years old, Mr. Brown had sadly passed from complications of the virus. Students decorated the outside of GCMS with flowers and signs put up in memory of Mr. Brown.
Caldwell West Caldwell schools also faced a tough time when school was put online for the rest of the year. The class of 2020 did not get a proper graduation, prom, or end of year senior activities. All sports were canceled and students were left wondering if they would ever go back to school. What started as a two week break turned into three months of zoom classes and online work. For the current class of 2021, there is no future in sight of what will happen to our school year since everything is so unpredictable. Friday night football games will no longer allow a student section, there are no pep rallies, no senior luncheon, and more activities that will be missed due to this virus that has taken over.
During this pandemic, the police departments, fire departments, and the West Essex First Aid Squad have been doing their best to alleviate the detriments of this virus for the community. The First Aid squad has taken countless Covid patients to the hospital and has not stopped taking emergency calls during this time. As a member of this First Aid squad, I can say firsthand that we have been working around the clock to help the community and respond to the pandemic in the most effective way possible. Many precautions are taken by EMTs when going on a Covid call to ensure the protection of the crew and the patient. Safety has and always will be imperative on calls, especially during the pandemic. The West Essex First Aid squad has seen so much support from the communities we serve and it is truly appreciated .
Many businesses in the Caldwell-West Caldwell area have experienced hardships during the height of the pandemic. Many restaurants could only offer takeout which led to many waiters and waitresses losing their jobs. Just as Covid was ramping up, you could not find toilet paper, paper towels, or hand sanitizer anywhere which made common household items hard to find. People were stocking up on items in case they were forced to stay in their houses. Stores like Stop and Shop and Shoprite experienced a shortage so severe of some items that lines formed before they opened so shoppers would be first in line for the popular items. Luckily, things have mostly returned to normal within the stores and there are no longer shortages of necessities. Another business that unfortunately had a line out the door was West Caldwell’s very own Urgent Care, the only place you did not want to see a long line outside of. This doctor’s office did Covid-19 testing and there was always a line of cars wrapped around the lot, full of people waiting to be tested. Not a single person has been unaffected by coronavirus.
It is interesting to see how much our towns have changed because of this virus. The thought of living like we used to feels so foreign and impossible at this point. Hopefully in the near future, there will be a vaccine so people can get a shot to prevent them from catching the virus. As much as our town was impacted, we all came together and made the best out of it. All of the businesses worked night and day to make food for people and sell necessary items. The school district did everything they could to make learning easier for all students and to give the seniors a little bit for their final year of high school. Emergency services are busy all the time making sure our community stays safe and as healthy as possible. The Caldwells have been so lucky to have these resources and services available to us during the Covid-19 pandemic.