Spring sprung propelling us into a new phase of the Covid journey. By May, many of us were vaccinated, communities began to withdraw mask requirements, and most of us got giddy with the relief of it all. A strong desire exists to launch forth, to get back to life, return to normal (even if normal will never be normal again). I feel it, too!

But part of me knows we’re missing the sacred lessons, not wanting to look back. Examining 2020 is difficult. Many of us had good things happen last year. My gratitude jar is bursting (mostly because I learned to look for the profound, little miracles that escape our perception when times are good). Did you catch those? Even so, our year dealing with the Covid crisis was tough.

One way to process what we went through and understand the time has inspired me to put together a written record to leave behind. Initially, I thought about doing a few pages with personal insights and photos to be tucked into a family photo album so that unlike the 1918 pandemic, Covid won’t be as easily forgotten. The project has grown and I’m not sure what the final product will look like. But for the purpose of this blog, I want to take you back to just the FIRST month of life under the pandemic. To give a glimpse of what was happening here, more or less— day by day. I chose to frame this as a Colorado experience and am indebted to my husband who was journaling consistently during this early period. This was our experience but it’s also your experience, because we all faced the fear, the challenges, and the sacrifices of Covid. Perhaps, you’ll be inspired to put together your own reflections and tuck them away for later generations to find.

(Reading below you will see references to “Laura.” I write under the pen name/spiritual name, “Ellis”- but we are the same person.)



Overall Emerging Crisis:

Issued by the Executive Office of the President (Trump) Mar. 13, 2020: Proclamation 9994

“In December 2019, a novel (new) coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 (“the virus”) was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China, causing outbreaks of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 that has now spread globally. The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency on January 31, 2020, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d), in response to COVID-19. I have taken sweeping action to control the spread of the virus in the United States, including by suspending entry of foreign nationals seeking entry who had been physically present within the prior 14 days in certain jurisdictions where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, including the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Schengen Area of Europe. The Federal Government, along with State and local governments, has taken preventive and proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus and treat those affected, including by instituting Federal quarantines for individuals evacuated from foreign nations, issuing a declaration pursuant to section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6d), and releasing policies to accelerate the acquisition of personal protective equipment and streamline bringing new diagnostic capabilities to laboratories.” 

Last week of Feb: Ken visits his mother in Orlando, Fl. There is national news coverage of the emerging crisis. Ken, busy with family, remains oblivious. Laura is very concerned at home in CO. Laura’s early attempts to calculate death figures indicate .5M- 2M.   

March 5, 2020: first reported Covid cases in Colorado. One of the cases was in Douglas County in a woman recently returned from a cruise. Most of the early cases occurred in the mountain resort towns of Crested Butte, Aspen, and Vail apparently brought in by international ski tourists.

 From Ken Nelson’s Journal entries:

5 Mar: Returned from Florida after visiting my mother (in Orlando). My son,  Mike, met me after work and we ate before he drove me home. This was my last dinner out. The first CO case reported.

6 Mar: Laura and I did some Covid shopping even though the stockpiling had already begun. No toilet paper or cold medicines. We were already reasonably stocked given our normal patterns, but it was something to see shelves empty without there being bad weather. Second CO case is a Middle School Student (at Mike’s old school, just around the corner from us.

7 Mar: Found some toilet paper at Home Depot, 400 US cases – 17 deaths.

8 Mar: 500 US cases – 22 deaths.

9 Mar: 600 US cases – White House briefing –way behind in communications. More about economics than health given the DOW fell 2000 points. At home, we had contractors over to bid on a home renovation project that will involve the removal of a wall (aren’t sure we will be able to proceed should lock-downs occur. Also, went through the what-ifs for long term shutdown (what do we need personally?) Get the car running OK so, set up MIDAS appt for 12th.

On March 10, 2020: Gov. Jared Polis declares a state of emergency in CO. Polis also announced 17 total presumptive positive cases in the state. A drive-up testing facility for patients with a doctor’s note is being set up.

March 11, 2020: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the COVID-19 outbreak can be characterized as a pandemic. Rates of infection continue to rise in many locations around the world and in the US. Some events in CO are cancelled (Conference on World Affairs at CU Boulder, Nederland’s Frozen Dead Guy Days) but others continue (Post Malone concert at Denver’s Pepsi Center proceeds, drawing a sellout-crowd of 20,000, likely the largest enclosed gathering in the U.S. before widespread lock-downs). 

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

11 Mar: Trump Oval Office speech. Sounds really flat –no heart. US cases: 1300.

March 12, 2020: Many major school districts in the Denver metro announce closures lasting at least two weeks. Due to the strain on medical facilities in mountain communities the Governor discouraged mountain travel for the elderly.

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

12 Mar: US – 1663 cases. Testing the big issue – want it to be made in USA even though Germany had a functioning test early on. TV has long lines for those that have permission for the test.

March 13, 2020: First Covid death in CO, an 80-year-old woman in El Paso County. National State of Emergency declared. Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020:

“The spread of COVID-19 within our Nation’s communities threatens to strain our Nation’s healthcare systems. As of March 12, 2020, 1,645 people from 47 States have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. It is incumbent on hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country to assess their preparedness posture and be prepared to surge capacity and capability. Additional measures, however, are needed to successfully contain and combat the virus in the United States.”

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

13 Mar: National Emergency declared -allows $50B in FEMA aid. Closures after closures. US cases 2247 (per WorldoMeter) with 50 deaths. First CO death. CO has 70 cases. Undercounting at 7 cases/million. Italy has 300 cases per million. 8 states close schools. CO counties looking to extend spring break. Italy overwhelmed and selecting who gets a ventilator (choosing who lives and who dies) .

Laura goes to doctor appt – couldn’t write a better skit. Something like this—Patient Stacey has symptoms but can’t connect via telemedicine. No! They don’t want herto come in the office!!!60+ year old woman there but, doesn’t want to be. Freaks out a bit when man enters looking like death, dressed in black wearing a face mask. (added: This is before any one is wearing a face mask.)

We are not ready….  Laura’s early concern valid. This is fast! I thought this stuff maybe by 31 Mar– NOT 13 Mar.

Mom’s place (in Orlando) allows no visitors – I was there 8 days ago.

March 14, 2020: Gov. Polis orders ski areas closed temporarily.

Gov. Jared Polis (CO)

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

15 Mar (Sunday): St. Patrick’s Day breakfast held at house. US cases: 3680. Starting to look at stats. 33% daily growth common in the world.

March 16, 2020: Denver mayor ordered all bars and restaurants closed on March 17 (except for food delivery and pickup) and banned gatherings of more than 50 people. Governor Polis expanded closures ordering a state-wide lock-down of dine-in services, gyms, casinos, and theaters.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

16 Mar: US Cases:4663 Talk of a stimulus package.

17 Mar: We are now taking turns to grocery shop to avoid both of us being sick. Laura’s turn to shop this week. No meats, no cleaners. We have enough but, restocking is questionable. Laura reports how eerie it is to see shelves stripped bare. (Is this the US or Russia?) US cases: 6509

March 18, 2020: Governor closes schools until April 17 and banned gatherings of more than 10 people for the following 30 days. Polis also ordered ski resorts to remain closed until April 6. The governor advocates social distancing and announces the creation of a fund to aid those affected by COVID-19. San Miguel County became the first county in the nation to plan to test all of its residents. It also orders residents to “shelter-in-place.” Gun sales skyrocket, along with toilet paper, and hand sanitizer.  

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

18 Mar: US cases: 9257. There will be months of this (not days…)

March 19, 2020: Gov. extends the closure of bars, restaurants, theaters, gymnasiums and casinos until April 30 and suspended all nonessential medical procedures. The governor also orders the closure of “nonessential” businesses until April 30, which includes nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors.Two days later, Rocky Mountain National Park closes due to fears over visitors bringing in the virus.

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

 19 Mar: CO allowing no non-essential travel or business. Started taking Elderberry. Theosophy meeting cancelled.

 20 Mar: White House Briefing is nothing but self-congratulatory comments with no real facts or leadership.” I have a feeling…??? All will be well.” Dr. Fauci’s body language says something VERY different. I would have kicked the team out if it were my briefing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

21 Mar: US 24,207 cases. NYC and 5 states shut down – 11 days of PPE (personal protective equipment including masks & gowns). I run to the grocery store. No chicken, some  meat, eggs OK but will run out within a couple of hours. Yogurt/cheese OK. No  beans or pasta, no canned goods or baking goods. Empty shelves, loosely stocked everywhere.

22 Mar: US 33,567/419, CO: 591/6 Governors pleading for PPE. FEMA can’t say  what they have shipped.

March 23, 2020: Denver Mayor Hannock announces a “stay at home” order for Denver County.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

23 Mar: US 43,734/553, CO: 720/7 Trump hints young should go back to work. The

CURE can’t be worse than the disease is his thought economically. $500B slush fund with Relief package. Mom  sends an e-mail entitled “Prison”. We drove around to see store closures, etc. A few national retailers closed including Michaels, Bed, Bath and Beyond. others open – Target, Home Depot, Walmart and groceries stores. Generally stores that have the necessities of life (like food & medicine are allowed to remain open). Restaurants open for delivery only. Not as draconian as expected.

March 24, 2020: Already, thirteen Colorado counties and multiple cities have announced some form of the stay-at-home order.

 Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

24 Mar: US 58823/778, CO 912/11 Gov Polis updates and Gov Cuomo updates – real figures it seems.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY)

March 25, 2020: Amira Haven Nelson born. Baby delivered in a birthing center with a midwife, not at a hospital. There was concern by pregnant women to go to hospitals during the crisis. Although this was a choice made prior to Covid, we were very happy given the unfolding situation. Governor Polis put the state in complete lock-down, with a stay-at-home order scheduled to last through April 11. Mesa Verde National Park closed. All CO parks and wildlife areas under state control closed the next day.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

25 Mar: US 68,472/1032, CO 1086/19 Amira (granddaughter) is born. I had just finished store run and was 30th in line at 8:01. Long lines with one out-one in. No chicken, low on meats. Johnsonville sausages available to provide sufficient stocking. What a relief that Amira was born before the hospitals get overwhelmed – have some time before that but, it was good to not be in harm’s way. CO announces STAY AT HOME starting tomorrow. Traffic is quiet.

26 Mar: US 85,439/1295, CO 1430/19. Ordered online from Home Depot for first time.

Not as fun as wandering through the store. Ordered shoes in case of months-long issues, especially concerned for goods coming from China and abroad. Facebook is showing empty ports. Chinese goods (?) might not be getting through due to world crisis.

March 27, 2020: Governor working to add 5,000 ICU beds to Colorado’s capacity by the end of the summer and is in conversations to acquire more ventilators. The 8pm Denver Howl is started by folks in a neighborhood near the Denver Botanic Garden and Denver Zoo. This is to show support for hospital workers.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

 27 Mar: (two weeks of Emergency) US 104,126/1695 CO: 1734/31 Today is the day that it dawned on me that this was the emergency that we were always prepping for (ever since swine flu). All of the extra canned goods, TP, supplies etc. Good news is that COVID is not as deadly nor as airborne as other possible diseases.

March 28, 2020: White House approves request to declare a major disaster for Colorado. The status means the state is eligible to receive additional federal resources and funding to help address the pandemic. The New York Post named Gunnison County at 454.20 per 100,000 people and Eagle County at 331.74 per 100,000 as being two of the top four counties leading the nation in confirmed cases outside of New York and Louisiana.

Ken Nelson’s Journal entry:

28 Mar: US 123,518/2221, CO: 2061/44 Governor CUOMO is on top of it. We start relying on his daily briefing to get accurate information and admire his leadership in the absence of it from the federal level.

29 Mar: US 143491/2583, CO 2307/47 rate of spread is slowing but a lack of testing may be hiding the growth rate.

30 Mar: US 163,844/3156, CO: 2627/51

31 Mar: US 188,530/3889, CO: 2966/269 Last time I volunteered at Food Bank (I think). 3 tons of food received from restaurant distributors since they aren’t open. Onions,potatoes, etc. Repackaging required.

End on March– Colorado doctors encouraging telemedicine, to keep people out of the hospitals or ERs to avoid infection. Many health insurance companies approve the same rate for a virtual visit as in-person. The demand for guns in Colorado continues to rise. Gun shops are considered essential businesses under the state’s stay-at-home order and are classified as “critical retail,” along with grocery stores, gas stations, marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores, and several other businesses. The Budweiser Events Center is identified as a possible temporary hospital as Colorado prepares for the coronavirus surge.


Looking back on this time, I was struck by just how fast things were moving and how rapidly we were adjusting to changes. I was also aware of how the hard recording of facts fails to convey the uncertainty and fear that held us. How adrift we felt without strong leadership to guide us. How alone we felt without answers. How uncertain we were about what the next day would bring. If you’ve found your own way to share or commemorate these events, please feel free to comment below. What memories has this stirred?


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5 responses to “LIFE IN A TIME OF COVID

  1. I kept a record like this, too, with the New Mexico numbers noted, the local events, the national events, attempting to capture the experience of the changed world as it happened. I keep updating, as the changes keep coming.


  2. Susan Bernhardt

    Ken’s daily journal entries are a great account and are/will be historical. Two weeks ago I stopped keeping track of the Covid cases in Wisconsin and various counties, two of which our city is in. I just looked at my calendar and I started on March 20, 2020 when there were 206 cases in Wisconsin.

    I asked yesterday on FB about what kept people sane during Covid, said what I did, had no response so I deleted the post. Covid greatly affected us and I’ll never forget the Time of Covid. And Covid is still here. I wrote Dress to Kill every day during Covid until it was published in October 2020 to keep sane. To help my husband, I played guitar with him each week until about the last two months. I started a jar of what I was grateful for that day. I made a list of activities we could do together. We didn’t see our family or friends for 1.5 years.

    Thank you for this indepth blog. The joyful part, your grandchild being born.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Susan. I remember many of your positive posts mentioning the things you were doing during this tough time. My husband busied himself with state by state data and modeling forecasts. He even had all the stats and projections for the world. I also finished writing a book and we completed many home projects. It will be interesting to see what lessons stick from this time and how we are transformed.

      Liked by 1 person

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