COVID-19 a year later: ‘A light at the end of the tunnel’

COVID-19 a year later: ‘A light at the end of the tunnel’

Last May, as one example of life in communities in a pandemic, freelance writer Joan Cronk reported to Senior Scene readers how residents and local government in the city of Puyallup were coping. Twelve months later, she has an update on how things are going there.

After a long COVID-induced shutdown, the Puyallup Public Library began offering limited service on April 1.

It has been a little over a year since the shutdown due to COVID-19, and life is slowly (and hopefully safely) returning to normal.

Linda Kachinsky, who a year ago was ordering groceries online and picking them up, is still doing so.

“I’m good at it, and it saves time and money because there is no impulse-buying,” said Kachinsky.

She and her husband have been vaccinated and are venturing out to smaller stores that have capacity control. “No big-store shopping and no groups of people,” she said, adding that they aren’t lowering their guard.

The couple orders takeout meals from local businesses and have hosted friends for an outside meal.

Steve Kirkelie, city manager for Puyallup, is delighted and encouraged by the vaccine and the president’s plan to get it into more communities.

“A light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, alluding to a recent vaccine distribution held at one of the Washington State Fair’s parking lots in his city. He said 3,500 folks were vaccinated during the event in which the city partnered with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the county’s Department of Emergency Management.

“We have already had six of these events. By the time we get to June we will have had at least a dozen events at the blue lot. This is very encouraging,” Kirkelie said.

The City Council is still holding its meetings on Zoom, and Catholic Communities Services will continue the To Go program that offers a takeaway lunch service. The program provides a box lunch for pickup Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pre-orders are required by calling 253-841-5555 one week in advance. Pickup occurs in the city’s Senior Activity Center parking lot at Third and Pioneer from 12 to 12:30 pm. The cost is $3.50 for seniors 60 and older and $6 for individuals under 60 years of age.

The summertime Concerts in the Park series is still up in the air, with no decision made as to a starting date.

The Puyallup Public Library opened April 1 for 34 hours a week Monday through Friday. Curb services will continue.

Puyallup Police Chief Scott Engle said his department is moving in the direction of returning to normal operations, with all employees back in the building due to having received their vaccines.

Engle said the officers were making sure when they engaged with the public that it was in an open air environment, but now it is safer to have in-home contacts.

“Over the last year we had to cut off a little bit of contact, and that created a barrier to community relations. We’re trying very hard to be able to interact one on one. We’ve missed that as much as the citizens have,” he said.

Engel said the community has moved to using city resources again, and school resource officers are seeing students in the buildings.

Puyallup schools are on a hybrid schedule, with most students in buildings two days a week.

Toni Gates, who works at the Costco depot in Sumner, said all departments have reopened except for the photo department. Employees wear masks companywide across the country, she said

“We still have sanitization crews that we have had for over a year, keeping surfaces clean for employees and customers, using special products that kill COVID,” she said.