The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic disease almost three years ago. The health crisis greatly changed America in ways temporary and long-lasting.
Here is a look at some interests that arose among people during the years of restrictive experience.
During the pandemic, more people learned to play, or returned to playing, a musical instrument.
For most, the activity was a hobby, something done for pleasure alone.
Bob Dorobis of Middletown, New Jersey, is an example. After a long break from music, he worked hard to improve his guitar technique during the pandemic. Now, the 70-year-old software developer is looking forward to more music time in retirement.
“When your fingerpicking sounds good it’s very rewarding,” he said. “I finally realized the only way for me to like it better is to learn it better.”
During the pandemic, a lot of people started exercising – mainly running, bicycle riding, and walking.
Beth Lehman is a childcare worker in Greenville, New York. She got on a bike for the first time in years with the children she cares for. Now, the whole family she works for rides bikes with her, including a grandfather in his 80s.
“I faked confidence,” she said of taking to two wheels again.
During the pandemic, more Americans got more involved with their neighbors and communities.
Many began to help old people. Neighborhoods organized assistance for them, including snow removal, food deliveries and transportation to medical visits.
Lisa and Larry Neula in Sacramento, California, shared their musical talents with their neighbors. Lisa is a former competitor and teacher of Hawaiian dance. Larry is a singer with the Lim Family, a Hawaiian traditional music group.
The couple performed just outside their house for gatherings of their neighbors during the pandemic. They continue the events to this day.
“If you get one person who shows they want to be social, then the other people catch on. It gets to be contagious,” Lisa said. “I don’t want to take all the credit, but it makes me a better person.”
Sports and gardening
As indoor public gatherings became impossible, outdoor activities became more popular.
Gardening, for example, was a way to get some extra exercise and grow fresh food. “Now, I rarely watch TV,” said Kelly Flor-Robinson from Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Sports such as pickleball added players. Its fan base grew so large, the demand for playing time was bigger than court capacity in some places.
The situation for golf was similar.
In Maplewood, New Jersey, Matthew Peyton and his son, Julian, worked on their golf games together. Julian now works in a sports shop and is learning about college golf programs.
“So there I am. Single dad with a 15-year-old, active teenage boy who won’t be going to school for two years,” Matthew said. “We don’t know what’s safe. We don’t touch door knobs or go to the store. But the golf course is our refuge. You’re 300 yards away from anyone else all by yourself. It’s like a private oasis.”
American shopping also changed. Curbside pickup and food delivery exploded in popularity. Both are still important for some people who once liked to visit stores.
“I used to enjoy food shopping, but this saves so much time and overspending on my part so I stuck with it,” said Amanda Sheronas Spencer in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
She added, “If I do go in person, I have to stick to my list, which is difficult for a person who loves food and cooking!”
I’m Ashley Thompson. And I’m John Russell.
Leanne Italie reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
improve – v. to become better
fingerpicking – n. a way of playing a guitar with the thumb and tips of the fingers
fake – v. to make (something) seem real or true in order to trick someone
oasis – n. an area in a desert where there is water and plants
curbside pickup– n. to get something brought to your car when it is parked near a curb - a short border along the edge of a street
delivery – n. the act of taking something to a person or place