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One year ago, COVID-19 began to upend the world

It was a year ago, just before New Year's Day 2020, that concerns about a contagious illness emerged in China.

MINNEAPOLIS — Around this time a year ago, Joyann Parker sang her heart out, performing for a lively audience at Crooners Supper Club on New Year’s Eve.   

The Twin Cities-based professional musician felt tremendous energy in the room as the year drew to a close, making way for a new decade and the start of 2020. 

“It’s kind of surreal thinking back on that. We had no idea,” Parker said during a Zoom interview on Wednesday night. “We had no idea what was going to happen.” 

When the Joyann Parker Band took the stage at Crooners on Dec. 31, 2019, the World Health Organization had just learned that day about a mysterious virus circulating in Wuhan, China. Within weeks, the United States began to confirm cases of COVID-19, and by early March, state officials in Minnesota announced the discovery of a presumptive case for the very first time. “It’s quite logical that everyone would wonder,” health commissioner Jan Malcolm said on March 6, “are we now going to suddenly go from one, to hundreds or thousands? That is certainly our hope to prevent that, and is not necessarily the trajectory we would see.” 

Unfortunately, that trajectory did occur. As of Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health has reported more than 400,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,000 deaths. The virus upended our daily lives, shuttering businesses and costing millions of Americans their jobs.  

Joyann Parker also spent the year adapting to new conditions. Without the ability to tour or travel, her band launched virtual performances twice a week, played safely outdoors with precautions in place over the summer, and continued sharing music for all who would listen.  

“I’m grateful we were as busy as we were,” Parker said. “I can’t go without performing. Music is my life; it’s what I do.” 

As Parker reflected on the year 2020, we asked our KARE 11 Facebook followers a similar question: “How has your perspective changed during these challenging times?”  

We received dozens of answers. 

Jill Johnson: “Even sometimes it’s been hard to stay home, but we’re safe and healthy. I’ve had some of the best conversations with my children because of it. My heart goes out to those who have lost during this year.” 

Alishea Klotz: “Appreciate the things I do have and live in the moment because tomorrow isn’t promised.” 

Brad Helget: “I took time to embrace and enjoy what I have even more! And realized I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am, where others aren’t as much.” 

Lisa Odden: “It’s put everything into perspective, and made me very grateful.” 

As New Year’s Eve approaches, the pandemic still holds a grip over life in Minnesota and much of the world. Joyann Parker, normally a New Year’s Eve mainstay as a musician, will spend the holiday with a tight-knit group instead of a large crowd like last year. 

“Tomorrow is going to be pretty low-key, mostly hanging out with friends. We’re going to play some music – but just a few of us, in a small room,” Parker said. “For me, I love singing, but I really miss the people. I miss being able to share the music. I’ve got this record coming out, and I’d love to share music with people. I’m really hoping, sooner rather than later, we can start seeing crowds again.” 

RELATED: Live updates: 2,019 additional COVID-19 cases, 66 deaths in Minnesota Wednesday

RELATED: 2nd US case of coronavirus variant confirmed in California after first in Colorado

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