“Documenting Teaneck History: The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic” by Barbara Ostroth

Our lives on Vandelinda Avenue were moving along nicely in the winter of 2020 – then came to a crashing halt in early March.  As a busy realtor in Bergen County, I was taking advantage of the mild winter weather to start my spring season off quickly and had a lot of business already underway.  My husband is retired but has been involved with our church (Second Reformed in Hackensack) as well as volunteering once a week at Holy Name Medical Center.

In early March I was recovering from a slight cold and my husband started to feel some chest congestion. I was feeling better, but he continued to feel worse.  As we heard more about the growing pandemic, we heeded the warnings to monitor ourselves as well as stay home and we started taking our temperature twice a day even before the order came to self-quarantine in Teaneck on March 15th.  That week, my husband’s temperature went up for several days and he lost his sense of taste, so we decided he should take advantage of the newly-opened drive up testing facility at Bergen Community College. His test came back positive on the 24th.  His fever lasted for about 10 days then abated and his sense of taste returned, but he has continued to have problems with chest congestion and some fatigue.  With Mucinex, Tylenol, and lots of rest, he is slowly recovering and his lungs are benefitting with some breathing exercises.

Yes, life has been very restrictive and it has been very hard to not have freedom of movement, ability to work (much of my business has been put on hold, although I have taken advantage of the time to do some educational webinars) and some of my community service commitments suffered with several planned events cancelled in March and April.  We are praying that our regular NH vacation in July as well as our daughter’s planned wedding in October in California will be able to happen, but are aware that so many people’s lives have been upended and we know we are lucky to have a comfortable home, access to internet contacts, enough money to live on for now, etc.

Of course, we continue to be anxious not only for ourselves but for our community, nation and the future.  However, for us, the great blessings of this awful pandemic are increased regular contact with our four children who live in TX, OH, CA and OR, increased FaceTime with our lively little grandchildren, hearing from extended family and friends through all sorts of social media/emails/phone calls, catching up on some AmazonPrime and Netflix movies and TV series, and trying to focus on doing some chores around the house. We are also grateful for the willing friends and even long-time friends of our children who have picked up food and medicine from CVS, grocery stores and even one night went to get us Chinese food!

Finally, what has also developed is a wonderful effort on behalf of my Vandelinda block who now communicate regularly by a WhatsApp text group.  Neighbors (some of whom I never met) offer to shop for each other, check in regularly to see how my husband is feeling, and one even made cloth face masks for the entire block!  The group is now talking about joining a fruit-and-vegetable co-op together, and we all want to plan a block party once we can come out of our houses to socialize again!  We have always loved living in this neighborhood (since 1986!), and while ownership of some of the homes has changed over the years, it continues to be a special place for us and a reflection of what Teaneck is – a diverse, welcoming and generous town.

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