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Can you believe it’s March again? We’re almost a year into COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines

  • March 02, 2021
A calendar open to March 2020 on a wooden table.

Editor’s Note: This is a preview of USA TODAY’s newsletter Staying Apart, Together, a guide to help us all cope with a world changed by coronavirus. If you would like it in your inbox on Tuesdays and Saturdays, subscribe here

When I flipped my calendar from February to March on Monday morning, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that we’re here again. 

Like so many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic became real to me mid-March of 2020, when stay at home orders began in parts of the country, office workers were sent home, schools closed and toilet paper hoarding escalated. 

I have been trying to think back to what I was doing a year ago. I was already worried about COVID, thanks to my anxiety the fact that I work at a newspaper. My husband and I were reading personal finance books, determined to budget and plan ahead so we could buy a house. I was buying presents for a baby shower that would become the last time I saw most of my family in person. I was commuting to work and complaining about it and eating at restaurants like it was no big deal. 

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Students hold up college pennants.

Today’s TV recommendations 

I had a request from reader Janet Benenson for more TV recommendations, and as a TV Critic, how could I refuse?

Every month the major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ update their libraries with new shows (and sometimes lose old shows), and so I maintain lists of the 50 or so best series to watch. Since it’s a new month, I wanted to offer you all some highlights of series I’m loving right now, that maybe you haven’t heard of or had a chance to watch. I hope binge-watching can offer you some distraction and relief when you need it. 

Netflix: “Evil.” This superb CBS series follows a psychologist (Katja Herbers), a priest-in-training (Mike Colter) and a tech specialist (Aasif Mandvi) as they investigate alleged demon possessions, miracles and other phenomenon.

If you have Amazon: “The Expanse.” Epic, whip-smart and addictive, Amazon’s near-future sci-fi series marries politics and space battles in the story of a future when we populate the solar system but remain culturally divided. 

If you have Hulu: “Speechless.” Gone too soon after just three seasons, ABC’s comedy about a family in which one son has cerebral palsy is representation of disability you’ve never seen before, with searing satire and riotous humor.

If you have HBO Max: “Being Erica.” In this charming Canadian series, a woman (Erin Karpluk) who feels as though she has made all the wrong choices in life is given the chance by a magical “therapist” to go back in time and change them, though those trips to the past don’t always have the result she intends.

If you have Disney+: “On Pointe.” This documentary about students at the School of American Ballet will satisfy viewers who love rousing sports stories and beautiful dance practice.

If you have Peacock: “Mr. Mercedes.” Based on Stephen King’s recent book series, “Mercedes” is a detective mystery with flavors of the author’s signature horror. Brendan Gleeson plays retired detective Bill Hodges, who hunts for a sociopath who drove a stolen Mercedes through a crowd, killing 16 people.

You can click on each streaming service name to see my full list of recommended shows. 

Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shakir, Mike Colter as David Acosta and Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard in Evil on CBS.

Today’s reads

  • Our film critic Brian Truitt loved Disney’s new animated film, “Raya and the Last Dragon.” 
  • More vaccines are coming, and it’s because of some unprecedented cooperation. 
  • Turning your clutter into cash? There’s an app for that. 
  • A self-driving VW bus? Sure, why not! 
The Volkswagen ID Buzz concept car at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Today’s Pet

Meet a good boy who helps comfort a nurse on the front lines of the pandemic. 

Francis sees into your soul with those big brown eyes.

“This is Francis, she’s 4 years old and brings us so much joy!” says Sam Shumaker. “I am a RN so never had to stay home, the opposite really. But my immune compromised husband and college son are home. I have enjoyed reading along with the long pandemic road. Pets and family are comforting.”

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