Coronavirus a year later: Holly Allen, ‘I knew we had a long road ahead of us’

A year ago today marked the moment that COVID-19 went from a emerging threat on a somewhat distant horizon to a grim reality that would kill more than 500,000 Americans in its first year and alter the lives of millions.

The Dayton Daily News checked in with 12 area business and community leaders and let them tell us what they learned about their lives, businesses and policy making during the pandemic.

Holly Allen of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Holly Allen, director of marketing and communication at the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, was in China in late 2019 and early 2020, when COVID-19 first took hold in that country. She and her family returned to Ohio by Jan. 25, 2020.

“It was fully underway in China, but it hadn’t quite really hit here yet,” Allen remembered. “I think in China it was just shocking to see the reaction that the government had there. We could tell when we were there that this was something really serious and not to be taken lightly. I could say, coming here to the U.S., the reaction was very different and it, I think, kind of fed my feeling that possibly it would stay on the other side of the world.”

Still, when it did spread to the United States, she wasn’t that surprised.

“I knew we had a long road ahead of us, understanding that it would be really hard to stop it from spreading without making some tough decisions, which we eventually saw,” she added.

Maybe the watchword of the past year, for Allen and others, was “flexibility.” Everyone had to learn to adapt.

“I would say overall I’ve become more flexible,” she said. “For a long time I was working remotely. I’m back in the office now. But my children’s situation is still fluid. We’re still figuring out child care. They’re back in school. I think I’ve learned to just be more flexible.”

“I think overall that most people I’ve seen have just learned that, hey, things happen and you just have to roll with it,” Allen said. “We’re less rigid than we we were before.”

About the Author