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Then and now: 10 before and after photos that show how COVID has changed everyday life in America

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As the country approaches its first year of adapting to the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, we take a look at how the shutdowns and restrictions have impacted everyday life.

From remote work and school schedules to new ways to attend events and church services, COVID-19 continues to alter how we live. And some of the changes could go on long after the virus is gone.

Travel methods, destinations change

Crowded planes were no longer the norm in the last half of 2020 as travel plans were largely halted during the several months of the pandemic. Airlines also took on fewer passengers, blocking middle seats to create more space between customers.

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(LEFT) Allegiant Air flight attendant Chris Killian prepares his passengers for the Laredo, Texas, bound flight before it pushes back from the terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, as seen in this May 9, 2013, file photo. (RIGHT) An almost empty British Airways passenger plane flies from Milan to London on March 5, 2020 in Milan, Italy.
(LEFT) Allegiant Air flight attendant Chris Killian prepares his passengers for the Laredo, Texas, bound flight before it pushes back from the terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, as seen in this May 9, 2013, file photo. (RIGHT) An almost empty British Airways passenger plane flies from Milan to London on March 5, 2020 in Milan, Italy.
(LEFT) Allegiant Air flight attendant Chris Killian prepares his passengers for the Laredo, Texas, bound flight before it pushes back from the terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, as seen in this May 9, 2013, file photo. (RIGHT) An almost empty British Airways passenger plane flies from Milan to London on March 5, 2020 in Milan, Italy.
DAVID BECKER, AP & LAUREL CHOR, GETTY IMAGES

From local and state orders shutting down bars, restaurants and beaches to a gradual reopening of these tourism hotspots, some places are seeing a faster return to “normal.”

(LEFT) Santa Monica Beach was fairly empty at lunchtime as Los Angeles County reopened beaches May 13, 2020, for active recreation activities such as swimming, surfing, running and walking only. (RIGHT) Kim Campbell, a student at the University of Louisville, left, joins friends on Clearwater Beach, March 2, 2021, in Clearwater, Fla., a popular spring break destination, west of Tampa.
(LEFT) Santa Monica Beach was fairly empty at lunchtime as Los Angeles County reopened beaches May 13, 2020, for active recreation activities such as swimming, surfing, running and walking only. (RIGHT) Kim Campbell, a student at the University of Louisville, left, joins friends on Clearwater Beach, March 2, 2021, in Clearwater, Fla., a popular spring break destination, west of Tampa.
(LEFT) Santa Monica Beach was fairly empty at lunchtime as Los Angeles County reopened beaches May 13, 2020, for active recreation activities such as swimming, surfing, running and walking only. (RIGHT) Kim Campbell, a student at the University of Louisville, left, joins friends on Clearwater Beach, March 2, 2021, in Clearwater, Fla., a popular spring break destination, west of Tampa.
ROBERT HANASHIRO, USA TODAY & CHRIS O’MEARA, AP

Sports fans largely sit out 2020 seasons 

Arenas went from being packed with sports fans to sitting empty as the nation pondered its next steps in fighting COVID-19 last year. 

Yet even as fans are slowly being reintroduced to games, albeit in limited numbers, the loss of 2020 sports highlights remains.

(LEFT) The Dallas Stars fans celebrate the win over the Nashville Predators during the overtime period in game six of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 22, 2019. (RIGHT) A view of the arena before the game between the Dallas Stars and the Carolina Hurricanes at the American Airlines Center on February 11, 2021.
(LEFT) The Dallas Stars fans celebrate the win over the Nashville Predators during the overtime period in game six of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 22, 2019. (RIGHT) A view of the arena before the game between the Dallas Stars and the Carolina Hurricanes at the American Airlines Center on February 11, 2021.
(LEFT) The Dallas Stars fans celebrate the win over the Nashville Predators during the overtime period in game six of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on April 22, 2019. (RIGHT) A view of the arena before the game between the Dallas Stars and the Carolina Hurricanes at the American Airlines Center on February 11, 2021.
JEROME MIRON, USA TODAY SPORTS

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Theaters sat (mostly) empty while drive-ins and streaming grew 

America’s demand for entertainment did not slow over the last year, even as concerts were postponed and movie theaters closed.

While theaters closed for extended periods of time, audiences turned to streaming platforms in increasing numbers. 

As people felt more comfortable venturing outside, the summer of 2020 threw it back to the days of the drive-in movies, a trend that resonated with audiences tired of staring at their small screens.

(LEFT) View of a sanitized movie theater at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City on March 4, 2021. (RIGHT) An aerial drone view shows a temporary drive-in movie theater at the Rose Bowl stadium, known for its spectacular Fourth of July fireworks which were canceled this year to reduce large public gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns, on July 4, 2020 in Pasadena, California.
(LEFT) View of a sanitized movie theater at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City on March 4, 2021. (RIGHT) An aerial drone view shows a temporary drive-in movie theater at the Rose Bowl stadium, known for its spectacular Fourth of July fireworks which were canceled this year to reduce large public gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns, on July 4, 2020 in Pasadena, California.
(LEFT) View of a sanitized movie theater at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City on March 4, 2021. (RIGHT) An aerial drone view shows a temporary drive-in movie theater at the Rose Bowl stadium, known for its spectacular Fourth of July fireworks which were canceled this year to reduce large public gatherings due to COVID-19 concerns, on July 4, 2020 in Pasadena, California.
ALFREDO ESTRELLA, AFP via Getty Images & DAVID MCNEW, Getty Images

Virtual learning becomes the norm

Schools also had to make major shifts in 2020 as COVID-19 swept across the country. 

The shift to virtual-only classes came with its own set of challenges — from students struggling with technology and broadband internet issues to families trying to find accessible and affordable child care while also working from home.

(LEFT) Courtney Gronbach, center, a first-grade teacher at Avery Elementary School, teaches students how to use the app Canvas, which they’ll use to submit their class assignments and maintain contact with teachers, at Avery Elementary School in Hilliard, Ohio on Mar. 13, 2020. (RIGHT) Marco Messorri speaks to his second-grade students during a lesson, at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary school in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.
(LEFT) Courtney Gronbach, center, a first-grade teacher at Avery Elementary School, teaches students how to use the app Canvas, which they’ll use to submit their class assignments and maintain contact with teachers, at Avery Elementary School in Hilliard, Ohio on Mar. 13, 2020. (RIGHT) Marco Messorri speaks to his second-grade students during a lesson, at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary school in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.
(LEFT) Courtney Gronbach, center, a first-grade teacher at Avery Elementary School, teaches students how to use the app Canvas, which they’ll use to submit their class assignments and maintain contact with teachers, at Avery Elementary School in Hilliard, Ohio on Mar. 13, 2020. (RIGHT) Marco Messorri speaks to his second-grade students during a lesson, at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary school in Athens, Ga., on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.
Joshua A. Bickel, The Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY & Noel Lyn Smith, USA TODAY NETWORK

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Churches move services online, outside

Places of worship also had to adapt their worship during the pandemic. Large gatherings were held virtually or via drive-in church services. Masks became part of the Sunday morning ensembles.

Senior Pastor David Ball of the Church of Our Savior on Beach Boulevard delivers his sermon on Palm Sunday at a drive-in church service  Sunday, April 5, 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.

Contributing: Paul Davidson, Joey Garrison, Mike Snider, Julia Thompson

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