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Monterey Bay Residents Share Stories And Hopes As We Mark One Year of COVID-19

Stock Photo by United Nations via Unsplash
To mark this anniversary we spoke to a nursing home resident, a health officer, a grocery store employee, a medical student and a farm worker who spent three months in the hospital battling the coronavirus.

This Friday (March 19) marks one year since the first statewide coronavirus stay-at-home order went into effect. To mark this anniversary, KAZU News spoke with five Monterey Bay residents to ask them what this past year has been like. They shared their highs and lows with us.


With KAZU News, I’m Michelle Loxton. This week it’ll be one year since the first statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home order went into effect. To mark this anniversary, KAZU News collected the stories, memories and hopes of five Monterey Bay area residents as they reflect on the past year. Some only shared their first names in order to protect their privacy as they spoke honestly about their experiences.

We spoke to a nursing home resident, a health officer, a grocery store employee, a medical student and this farm worker who spent three months in the hospital battling the coronavirus.

Translated to English with help from Bob Gómez: My name is Anastacio Cruz and I live here in Salinas, California and well...well, little by little, I am recuperating from my illness because I have spoken with the doctors and they've told me that it's going to take a while for me to get better because they say that it was a very rough stay in the hospital. Well, hopefully, now with the vaccine, well, now we're going to feel more secure, is always living with the fear of going out, of going to the store, of going to work, because, myself, what I want also is to go back to work. And now with the vaccine let's see if we can go out now feeling safer. 

My name is Jerrica Dexter, I'm a fourth semester nursing student at Hartnell Community College. First and second semester we learn about vaccines in children, you know, mostly, and the general vaccines that adults get, influenza, things like that. We learn how to do our injections. And then we were given the opportunity to administer these vaccines that came out. And we were all so excited just to be able to contribute. One moment that stands out for me throughout this pandemic is the moment I held an actual vaccine in my hand before I gave it to the very first patient that I administered to and I remember thinking, wow, this is...this is gold. This is gold in this day and age. And it was cold, but it looked like just a normal vaccine. And I think I'll always remember getting that vaccine in my hand that day.

My name is Patricia and I'm a grocery store courtesy clerk at a major grocery store chain. Looking back on this year, I don't think it was that hard for me to isolate because I live alone, so it wasn't a hard transition for me. But what was really challenging is the work situation where people don't respect the employees that are trying to uphold the county orders. Some people just wouldn't comply with the mask mandate waiting in line. We would ask them to leave, most people would leave the line if they didn't want to put the mask on. But we had one woman who refused to put the mask on in line and actually ran her cart into me when I told her she couldn't go in line. So the lack of care for other people, the lack of sense of community, of that we all need to do our bit and, you know, help each other is really unconscionable and appalling to me.

My name is Nick Henares. I've been a resident of the Peninsula all my life since I was born. I live in an assisted living facility. This is the second time I've been through this. When I was a young, young child... that we had polio. We all had to go through the Salk Vaccine and everybody had to be vaccinated. Well, the future sort of repeated itself with this vaccine. I think it's going to be...we're going to win this war. We're going to be comfortable and days are going to become better than normal, than it was yesterday.  

My name is Gail Newel. I'm the health officer for the County of Santa Cruz. One moment that stands out for me during this year is the Sunday afternoon that protesters arrived at my home. That felt like a big line that got crossed where I was no longer just a public servant, which is enough, that's a big enough role to play, but now suddenly my private life as well was  completely absorbed in this COVID pandemic. Looking to the future I'm feeling very optimistic and full of hope. I feel like I can really see the light at the end of the tunnel clearly and I'm catching its rays enough that it's warming me and brightening my perspective. I'm very excited for our community, for our state, for our nation. We're going to see better days ahead. 

Those were the voices of five Monterey Bay area residents sharing their stories, their memories and their hopes as we mark, this week, one year since the first COVID-19 statewide lockdown. I’m Michelle Loxton, this is KAZU News.


From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.