DETROIT (WXYZ) — March 11, 2020: For many of us, it's the day our world was suddenly turned upside down.
It's the day travel restrictions kicked in, sports leagues like the NBA shut down, and COVID-19 began to spread.
For Stephen Wyzgowski, that week two years ago is one he’d like to forget. He owns an Irish dance school in Rochester Hills that suddenly found itself closing during its busiest month of the year. And as the months went on, so did the restrictions.
"We went into debt, which is not fun," Wyzgowski said. "Fortunately for us, we were a business that was able to stay open and had loyal clients who stayed with us.”
Throughout the pandemic, thousands of small businesses have shut their doors for good. In Michigan, roughly 35,000 people have lost their lives to COVID-19.
"It’s been pretty rough," Natasha Ristovki said. I lost my dad to COVID in 2020, and that was my last parent.”
In November of 2020, Ristovski lost her father Ljupco just 10 days after his 60th birthday. An immigrant from Europe, he was in a band and owned his own steel business in metro Detroit for nearly 40 years.
“It's honestly really rough. We had to learn a whole bunch of stuff without him," Ristovski said. "It was just so fast. It was honestly within a three-month period. He was up fine then down in the hospital really quick.”
With cases now on the decline, things are starting to look up. However, even once the pandemic is finally behind us, its impact will last forever.
“To financially recover from what it did to us it will be years and years and years,” Wyzgowski said.
"It feels better," Ristovski said. "Life goes on, you know?”