Matt, Bay County

Storyteller: Karissa Kowalski

Matt is 52 years of age. He lives in Bay County, and his profession is both a pharmacist and a business owner, as he owns a small gift and medication shop, to where he manages and oversees his employees, while giving behind the counter advice on how to utilize some of the products. Surprisingly, though he had gotten word of COVID back in January that it was sweeping through China and infecting various other places, he recalls it was not published in the pharmacy journals until March, when it had officially become a large scale issue in Michigan.

Due to the severity of situation we are in, Matt has mainly refrained from going out to eat. He misses the sporting events he used to be able to attend often, including the annual baseball game he organizes every year for his coworkers. He tries his best to have his employees social distance, but it is a challenge when the back area is small and cramped to begin with. He also has to put up large plastic barriers between customers and the employees working the counter, because it is easy to spread the virus if there is nothing separating the two parties. More people who come to store have their medication delivered out to their car than ever before (known as curbside pickup).

One good thing that Matt has gotten out of dealing with and being a business owner during the COVID-19 pandemic is having more hygienic implementations than in previous years because the virus is capable of having a greater mobility in a smaller location. He has also lost a lot of friendship connection, as he can’t see them as much as before, meaning they have grown distant over the months because it’s not the best idea to meet up with a large number of people. Matt has also noticed that it is a struggle to hear people when they talk through a mask, as previously we were not adapted to sporting a cloth over our nose and mouth whenever we went into a store or indoor public place. This can mean for some people, (soft-spoken people, like Matt) that they feel that they have to talk louder, and almost scream for others to hear them. That has made his jaw hurt by doing so, as he had to accommodate to the new piece of unlikely “attire.” Looking to the outside world, to him, it just seems quieter, and more devoid of people than it has been in the past, as if a deadly silence has diffused through the region.

He imagines that he wouldn’t fare horribly if he had gotten COVID, however, he is very cautious about loved ones who he predicts would have a increased chance of the virus being detrimental to their health, as that is why he now second-guesses if he sneezes or coughs. When the pandemic was first declared as such, it was an educated assumption that there would be many more sick people at his work, knowing that regular customers that come to get prescriptions could succumb to the illness, and that the business would have an influx of people that would be hard to provide service to because of the notion of the sheer number. One thing the pandemic has done is made him closer with the people that live in his household, and made them more open to sharing concerns among each other. The main thing he has obtained from the COVID experience is to stay clean and fight bacteria and germs, as something we could take into consideration to maintain throughout our lives now that the people of today know how powerful a virus can be.

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