When the pandemic began, Mark Finazzo was a working in a Columbus, Ohio, beer brewery, a job he lost to lockdown measures that plunged him, like many Americans, into terrifying months of isolation, anxiety and helplessness, with little more to do than watch the coronavirus rage across the TV news.
Today Mr. Finazzo, 35, is in his first semester at Ohio State University. He is getting his second bachelor’s degree, this one in microbiology, hoping to become a research scientist — like the people striving to create a vaccine he watched and read about as he sat on his couch in the pandemic’s earliest, darkest days.
“When I saw footage of hospital tents being erected in Central Park, it was like, ‘Wow, life is fragile and precious,’” Mr. Finazzo said, referring to the field hospitals New York City mustered in the spring of 2020. “‘I should probably do something to help out besides make a delicious poison that we like to drink.’”
The virus’s toll cannot be overstated: It has stolen over 800,000 American lives, and millions globally. Efforts to thwart it have swept away livelihoods, altered childhoods, and left lasting emotional tolls. At the start of yet another year of Covid-19 in our midst, its latest variant rising, there is for many a sense of familiar foreboding.
But all along, in the valley of the shadow of the virus, there has been remarkable resilience. It can be seen in the lightning-fast creation of vaccines that have largely defanged Covid-19, and in recent findings that the methods used now may show promise in the fight against H.I.V. and AIDS. It is in every pivot made by a canny entrepreneur that saved a business, and each government agency that pushed innovative change during chaotic times.
And it is in individuals, like Mr. Finazzo, who in the face of seismic societal shifts have not shattered, but shifted too.