One Year of COVID - Engine Builder Magazine

One Year of COVID

As we all know, March 2021 marks a full year since the Coronavirus began altering what we used to know as ‘normal life.’ I don’t think any of us will forget March 2020 when we began hearing that this then foreign flu strain was starting to make the rounds in the U.S. I remember we all thought the same thing back then – “It’s not much worse than the regular flu.” “It should only be a few weeks and it’ll be gone.”

No big deal, right? Boy, were we all wrong about that! It’s been more than a year now and more than 530,000 Americans have died due to the Coronavirus spread, and nearly 30 million Americans have tested positive for it in that time. It’s been a bit crazy to say the least, but it’s not like any of us had ever lived through a pandemic before. 

The ‘other’ flu strains we have lived through in recent decades had all gotten under control fairly quickly and without too much loss of life. None of us were around more than 100 years ago to experience the last pandemic to take over the world – the Spanish Flu – which killed 50 million worldwide and about 675,000 Americans.

To jog my own memory of COVID’s start, I took a look back at the column I wrote in April 2020. After just one month, we had COVID fatigue already!

“I’ll spare you the Coronavirus recaps and regurgitating all the information we have been constantly bombarded with every day. If you’re anything like me, it’s beginning to get tiresome, though important. What we do know is social distancing and stay-at-home orders are effective and have drastically reduced the impact of the COVID-19 virus. 

“I’ve been staying at home as much as possible the past month or so now. It took some getting used to when Babcox Media initially sent us all to our home offices back on March 13, just ahead of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, which has been extended to May 1st as of writing this column. It felt like we were in a movie back in mid-March – major events getting cancelled and postponed, restaurants, bars and other small businesses shutting down, sports going on hiatus, no groups larger than 10 people, masks, gloves, awkward situations passing people on the sidewalk and in grocery stores, and so on.”

After a year, it’s all felt a little more commonplace, though certainly still very strange. We’ve all become accustomed to virtual everything! Of course, most of us in the automotive industry were considered ‘essential’ businesses, and with so many folks at home with more time to think about their hobbies and car projects, thankfully, our industry continued to stay busy and productive. That’s not to say there wasn’t an adjustment to be made. 

(From April 2020) “Many shops have been deemed essential and continue to do great work, while some manufacturers have temporarily shutdown to protect their employees or are operating on skeleton crews to keep filling orders. Others with the necessary means, have been changing their manufacturing to help make masks, ventilator units and parts as well as hand sanitizer for the greater good, and that’s awesome to see!”

A lot of racing events in 2020 were cancelled, postponed or held without fans until the latter half of 2020. Today, many of the things put in place a year ago are still around for everyone’s safety, but we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Three vaccines are making the rounds in the U.S., the weather is warming up again to allow for more outdoor events/activities and it finally feels like we’re gaining the upper hand on COVID-19. 

I’ve heard from many engine shops that lead times and parts procurement today is still much longer than desired, but everyone seems to be making it work and getting through all of this together as an industry. 

And speaking of engine parts procurement, every March marks our annual Buyer’s Guide issue, and we once again have a great list of engine component manufacturers, distributors, engine services, and so much more for you to explore and keep as a resource. Those listings are sandwiched between a ton of great content too. Enjoy!  EB

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