Athlone native narrates Santa Barbara COVID-19 experience

An Athlone native now residing in Santa Barbara, California, has narrated his personal and professional COVID-19 experience, noting his adaption to wholly new surrounds as the global pandemic shows little sign of relenting.

“We are extremely lucky that both my wife, Jessie, and I, are able to work from home and are now juggling the situation with home schooling for our children. Similar to Ireland, restrictions have eased in waves so we are able to visit with family and even travel within the State. We visit the beach regularly as a welcome distraction and escape the indoor lifestyle,” Paul remarked.

Paul noted the detrimental impact which has occurred as a second wave of the virus makes its presence, the figures for which alter on a daily basis.

“Santa Barbara started off with relatively low COVID-19 cases and deaths compared to the rest of USA, but we are starting to feel the effects of a second wave, which changes on a daily basis.

“The original lockdown happened here at a similar time Ireland which helped keep the numbers low and many restaurants, bars and coffee shops immediately offered delivery or pick up services which has enabled them to keep trading.

“The main street became pedestrianised to allow bars and restaurants set up tables on the street. Businesses are allowed to stay open as long as they can trade outdoors, which works well with the California weather.

“School plans for the autumn keep changing. At the moment, the Governor has ordered our county to only have remote learning until the infection rates improve. As frustrating as that is, we think it is probably the right decision,” Paul acknowledged.

An absence of a social life is one fondly missed by both Paul and Jessie as Paul looks forward to an eventual return to coaching his son’s soccer team.

“We definitely miss meeting up with family and friends. I also coach my son’s soccer team so we both miss the matches and training last season had to be cut short due to lockdown. We are due to start again in October but unfortunately, that is looking unlikely to happen as of now.

“We are truly forward to the days where we can feel comfortable with family members and friends at restaurants and social gatherings while a return to team sports activities for both our children is much looked forward too in the coming times,” Paul concluded.


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