Read Others' Stories

Bien Mabbayad

Philippines

Origin:

Residence:

Pasig

Male

Teacher

Working from home

It's been almost four months now since the pandemic struck our country. With the way things are happening now, I don't know which I fear more: the virus or what the government is doing. Despite the reassurances from the government, there is still no clear plan on how to best save us from the sickness that is now rapidly rising. For these past four months, the government was busy closing down a prominent television franchise, imposing an anti-terror bill that contains questionable laws, has tried to discourage political rallies upon threat of getting infected. And now, they are lobbying for the return of the death penalty.

I have once said to myself that I will stay alive inside for the sake of my family. Even with the current problems we all face, I must remain ever more so strong and resilient as my kids must also be. We all must not succumb to fear, no matter how hard it can be. True, things can get worse in the coming days, but at least our little world in this small house will remain a safe haven of thoughts, love, and joy. Kids must be spared from facing too much of the reality happening outside. They deserve their innocence, and they deserve to understand.

Eric LaNoue

United States of America

Origin:

Residence:

Royal Oak, Michigan, USA

Male

High School Teacher

Working from home

As a high school music teacher, daily life changed immediately and extremely as soon as my school closed on March 13th. That included the mass cancelation of several immediate music performances for my students, which turned, over time, into the slow cancelation of more future events, like graduation, prom, and end-of-year-concerts. Revealing that slow, constant process of cancelation to my students was really upsetting - I could feel their depression in response, as they sat mostly sullen silence over a group zoom call.

My daily schedule, however, was actually not one I would complain about. Thankfully, I continued to receive my full salary, as I continued to teach all of my classes online from home. From mid March to mid June my daily schedule was about the same. I would wake up around 8am, do some work around the house, make coffee, and have breakfast with my wife - all in full sunlight. This sort of quality time at home was certainly a silver lining of working at home for an extended period.

Monday-Friday I tended to do teaching related work from about 9:30-4:30 every day, with time for a lunch (again with my wife) in the early afternoon. The schedule of tasks depended upon the day, but there was always lots of lesson content to create (everything was completely brand new, given the changing of group-performance classes into online classes), tons of emails to sift through and often respond to, lots of documents to read about the constantly shifting policy, and lots of student work to comment on. I also was expected to have several hours of "office hours" every week, where teachers need to sit in an open Zoom call and wait for students to show up. Very few students engaged with these, and honestly I don't recall feeling so self-conscious as a teacher as I did waiting for students to show up and discuss their work.

Some students really embraced the online work I assigned, and composed and performed some really impressive music, and had fun. Others did the bare minimum work, submitted it all late, and never engaged with any class Zoom meetings - that's including students who usually would have done exemplary work. The sudden change to "remote learning" changed so much for those students.

Aside from work, my wife and I have lived well. We have been able to stay cooped up in our home for the most part, only going out for safe take-out food and masked grocery store runs. We take lots of walks, cook a lot of good food (we both love to cook), go to parks, do work on our yard. I spent time composing music, which I rarely have time to do with my busy schedule as a music teacher, and I even got out my old Wii and played some video games, which has always felt indulgent for someone with no time to spare. We have a regular weekly "event" with our friends, where we get on a group phone call and play a movie drinking game to something on Netflix or Hulu. Honestly, I miss normalcy to some extent, but I have been privileged to live a healthy, happy, quarantine. I am always afraid to sound callous when I say that, knowing how painful it has been for so many, but it is true. My wife (who is pregnant and expecting in October) and I will likely never have this kind of one-on-one time until we (hopefully) retire one day.

I know that my experiences are COMPLETELY different from teachers who were doing the work I described above, while also parenting and home-teaching their own young children. It's worth repeating - how this pandemic affected individuals is has been drastically different based on your situation - age, relationship status, socio-economic status, occupation, parental status.

Unfortunately, I feel our country missed a huge opportunity to unite under a common goal. I think I, and many people I know, feel more solidarity with countries that suffered heavily from COVID-19, more than we do with other members of this country who refuse to take the pandemic seriously. We have seen young people (we are old now at the ripe age of 31) out en masse in Royal Oak, in crowded bars, unmasked and seemingly unconcerned. I am worried these, and many similar selfish acts, have undone the sacrifices of parents, teachers, and students. Now, in midsummer, our country and community seems incredibly divided about the prospect of starting school in person in the fall. I think the spirit of cooperation many saw at the beginning of the pandemic is mostly gone, and most people are simply worried about their own well-being, and not any sense of communal well-being, aside from the economy.

Michelle

USA

Origin:

Residence:

Lancaster

Female

Educator

This pandemic has definitely taken a toll on my everyday life. I am someone who was used to being on the go and working all the time. Suddenly my routine was stopped completely. This caused me to go into depression for the first month. On the positive note, I was able to enjoy my house and cook healthier meals. This has caused me to gain weight and this weight gain added more depression and stress to my life. I then decided that I needed to get over it and do something productive.

Time to work on projects was never an opportunity that I had. Therefore, I decided to make use of the time. I started a Virtual Sisters Circle with nineteen of my closest friends. This outlet allowed women to Uplift, Empower, and Encourage each other. This outlet also gives us an opportunity to talk about what were feeling during this pandemic and keep in contact.

Realizing that things will forever operate differently in schools, I spent a lot of time focusing on what I could do differently to help my students. I also worked on ways to make my instruction more effective for my students when school reopens.

I miss the students and I am worried about how much reading they have been doing, my first priority is for everyone to be safe and healthy. I am eager to see what the district decides about reopening schools.

I think the pandemic has caused most people to think about what's important in life and how much better we are when we work together. However, with everything else that has been going on, it has weakened race relations even more, but it has caused other races to understand different cultures.

Jake

United States

Origin:

Residence:

United States

Male

Unemployed

What is wild about these current events is it feels like we have been prepared to shift to social isolation more than ever before.
Modern technology has allowed us to live comfortably from our homes. Many people work from home already and schooling has been shifting onto online platforms. Personally, I am used to going days on end without leaving the house. I'm living with my parents so there is a lot of support I'm lucky to have right now. Food meal prep and delivery has been a usual routine in my everyday.
After having been to jail, I've consoled my life to standards of confinement. Enjoying the little things in life from a cooked meal, a nice walk outside and a good book to read has been enough to keep me grounded. Who would have thought that the criminal justice system would have prepared me for these events?

Charitable aid has risen like I have never seen. Although corporations seem to be a plague to some aspects of our society, the benefits they are able to raise just through consumer purchasing is surprisingly effective (ie. profits going towards charities)
I'm not too familiar with international cooperation but stay-at-home orders have been universally agreed upon which is nice to know we can get on the same page to some degree.
As for community solidarity, there has been a major disturbance in our communities over these events.. like I had mentioned about the way we've shifted to social isolation, we have large groups of people coming together to protest over different things which... could strengthen community AND weaken community to some degree... but with how life is today, we also have the option to stand back and not be apart of any of it. We don't have to go out and get involved at all. This strengthens the health of community in terms of stopping the spread of a virus, but could also weaken communities by separating individuals into these hermit-like states.

Mildred B.Serra,OTRP

Philippines

Origin:

Residence:

Philippines

Female

Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Freelance

I am Mildred Briguera- Serra, a single parent of a teenage son. During the first several weeks of lockdown due to our present pandemic, I had extreme anxiety and growing fear day by day. Being aware of the consequences one may experience when infected with coronavirus, I was overwhelmed by fear of death , which could be the death of oneself or the death of a loved one. Evenings have become unusually frightening to me as I often feel like gasping for breath every time I am about to fall asleep because of growing fear. I thought those feelings wouldn't end until vaccines and medications are available but God is good. With the emotional support from family and some closest friends and constant spiritual guidance plus healthy activities at home, my anxiety has significantly dropped overtime. To avoid worrying too much, I keep myself busy with studying free online courses which I think would help me enhance my effectivity as a pediatric occupational therapist. Knowing that I wouldn't be able yet to work face to face with my clients who are children with special needs, I decided to create an Occupational Therapy Facebook Page where parents can find suitable information for helping their kids at home. I also occupy my time by creating a deeper bond with my son , singing with him while he is playing the piano, and nurturing him with lots of opportunities to learn at home.

As the Covid-19 crisis continues , solidarity is spreading across the world. Communities are showing extraordinary forms of help . Volunteers and Frontliners are unceasingly doing heroic acts despite known threats to their health. Young people all over the world are exploring their skills , enhancing and showcasing their talents through social media to keep spirit up as social distancing becomes the norm. Voices of men and women and of youth reaching many people in all countries to comfort, console, educate and build up one another, Yes, the COVID 19 crisis continues but it obviously brings out the best in people across the world.

Bien

Philippines

Origin:

Residence:

Pasig City

Male

Teacher

Working from home

A lot has happened since our country went on quarantine. you may have come across a few of them on the news: insensitive statements and publicity stunts from celebrities, protocol violations done by both police officers and privileged politicians, unjust arrests and uncomfortable confinements. My father even mentioned one time that all of us Filipinos will die in less than a hundred years. I can never exactly pinpoint if he was talking about the virus, or the way our country is being run due to the pandemic. Being a senior citizen, he openly feels like a prisoner. To be honest, a part of me wants to agree with him.For the many times I have been outside to line up for two hours just to buy groceries, or sometimes do errands for my relatives who can't help themselves, I've always felt anxious, afraid that I might bring the infection home. It is hard to live a life like this, torn by thoughts of contracting the disease while worrying where to get your next meal. But there is also a greater part of me that resist the urge to give up. Our people have survived volcanic eruptions, massive earthquakes, devastating flood, but we always survived. We've learned not entirely resilience, but ways to adapt. It's what I teach my children, to keep them safe and alive inside full of hope and live through this without fear.

I have witnessed people from all walks of life bonding together to help what we call as front-liners. We've donated what we can from food, clothes, protection gears and even places to live. Though there are a few who discriminate nurses who have worked with COVID-19 patients, more people in fact have not only saluted them with honor, but to actually give them what they truly need, equipment, sustenance and lodging.

Edoardo

Italy

Origin:

Residence:

Udine

Male

Student

Other

Hi everyone, I’m Edoardo and I’d like to share with you guys a funny little story about my quarantine life.
I remember it was our very first week of self-isolation and everybody was extremely concerned: none of us had ever experienced something like this. Social Medias were getting crazy too, and the initial “happy mood” caused by the closing of schools was already broken down by the panic. We were just about to spend the next months of our lives segregated in our houses, with no permission of getting out except for livelihood’s necessities. As you may understand, nobody knew what to do during this isolation! We all suddenly started video-chatting to each other as if there was no tomorrow (we are still doing it) and in a few days all of my friends downloaded houseparty: houseparty is a nice video-chat app in which, when you are online, any of your friends are able to join your chat. The way this works is really cool because most of the time we don’t even have to schedule the chats, but one of its downsides is that you may end up chatting with a person you don’t really want to talk to. Anyway, this app has been and it’s still extremely precious for us teenagers, and we are literally using it 24/7. Even if we almost do, we couldn’t spend all of our time on houseparty; so, I remember a lot of famous and trendy Instagram pages started posting some lists of “things to do during this quarantine”. There was one in particular, which is called “id” (it’s a pretty famous news/divulgation page), that posted an exhaustive “100 things to do during this quarantine” list. There were so many things that I can’t even remember, but my eyes immediately fell on the first point in the list: “try to grow an avocado”! I texted a friend of mine straightaway and, after a couple of quick pieces of advice, I made a decision: I wanted to grow myself an avocado! I also promised my friend I would send her a lot of pics during the growing process.
Later that day I did some quick research and, after making sure that I had everything necessary, I asked my mom if she could buy me an avocado, the next time she went out food shopping. She was pretty enthusiastic about my new “growing interest”, so she asked more about my plan: I explained her that, after letting it in close touch with water for some weeks (you basically have to take three toothpicks and stick them at a slight downward angle into the avocado seed, spaced evenly around its circumference; then you place this structure on a glass full of water in order to rest 2-3 cm of the bottom of the seed into the water), I would wait for the bud to get out; once it got out, I would put the little plant inside a jar. The jar-stage would be the last one because it’s when the new avocado actually starts growing. I took this pretty seriously and I was really excited also because I really enjoy eating avocado (it’s one of my favourite fruits). That was also such a sustainable hobby because, instead of getting rid of the seed, I would have reused it to plant a new avocado (also in order to spend less money!).
Now that I’m writing for you this story it’s the fifth week: since last week I began seeing something happening on the bottom of the seed; I’m pretty sure it’s the bud! It took it a little longer to get out probably because the weather conditions in which I’m growing it aren’t exactly what you would call “tropical” or “perfect” for it, and as you can deduce, the less heat it gets the longer it will take for it to sprout and grow. Anyway, it’s actually working so I’m very happy!

Johann von Wucht

United States

Origin:

Residence:

New York City (Queens)

Male

PhD Student

Working from home

My wife's office got hit with COVID19 pretty hard and quite early. Some of her colleagues found themselves on the brink of death, hospitalized, or struggling to decide if it was socially responsible to take a hospital bed if others might need it. Almost certainly my wife contracted the disease, but we were unable to get a test due to the dearth of testing in the early stages here in NYC. Living in a small NYC apartment made distancing between the two of us virtually impossible. As I developed some minor symptoms, the lingering paranoia and uncertainty of whether or not it was COVID19 or just seasonal allergies was impossible to ignore. As my wife's symptoms progressed, she started to lose her smell and taste. At that point, few reports of this symptom had been widely reported and the fear that she might not regain these senses was very real.

We tried to get a fair stock of food and essentials which is something we have never done given space constraints in the aforementioned apartment. I belong to a food COOP in Brooklyn. Normally, it takes a few hours to make the trek to the other borough and to shop - but in these circumstances the COOP limited the number of members who could shop at any given time and the whole process of getting in and out the door with goods took half a day. Over time, nearly every grocery store near where I live or where I might shop have implemented similar policies. Getting basic foodstuffs can be an all day affair. We cook at home most days - but in normal times love to patronize our local restaurants. It has been a difficult balance choosing whether or not to get take-out or delivery as on the one hand, one feels these businesses need our support, but on the other, the sense is that their employees are being put at risk in an unfair way.

The other day we had 799 deaths in New York State in one day. Even as the rate of hospitalization slows, we still rarely get a break from the sirens. Our neighborhood has one of the highest infection rates in the city, which means one of the highest in the country, and in the world. It may have peaked, and we hope that is true. In the meantime, we try not to forget that there are people behind those sirens. People driving those emergency vehicles, and people working in the back trying their best to keep the person they picked up alive. And that's just the beginning of the fight.

I’m not a first responder. I’ve never been one and I never will be. I could never pretend to understand what it means to earn the distinction and the right to work in a hospital or an ER. Getting through the training and the education alone deserves accolades. But to go there, every day for work, and do the everyday business of dealing with trauma and disease, to bring families bad news, to confront life in its most fragile state and be responsible for sustaining it - frankly it astounds me that anyone can do it let alone wants to do it willingly. And that so many people do - doesn't that say something so powerful about the human condition? That is society at its core – a select group of specialized people who are willing to take all of that on for the sake of the community, our community. And this is what these folks do not just in times of extremes, but every day when they go to work. And what's the usual refrain? "I'm no hero. I'm just doin' my job."
I hadn't heard it at first, but now, when 7pm comes rolling around the crackle of pots and pans, clapping and cheering, screams from the giant union-built Big Six Towers ("The Jewel of Woodside") and all those surrounding them goes cascading over Queens Boulevard and traveling I know not how far. Folks are cheering every day for medical pros, but in a way, I'm starting to feel its also like a whale song - everyone all cooped up simply roaring with racket: I'm still here. We are here, together. That much gives me hope.
But as the quarantine carries on, I fear that many will get restless. Or dare I say: greedy.
Our part, as far as I can tell, those of us who aren't facing this thing head on, staring it in the face day and night, fighting it back so that we and our loved ones can live, is to stay the heck home. We owe it to the first responders, the ER nurses, the doctors and everyone who is on the front lines right now and will be for months, and months to come. Our job is to stay vigilant, to stay as empathetic as we possibly can, to help where we might, but most importantly, stay at home so that the already impossibly difficult and unimaginable job of medical professionals and first responders is not magnified merely because we got sick of waiting around.
I've been hearing a lot from friends and family in the medical profession, and it pains me to hear how badly they want to see their extended families - to be with their friends and people who would normally provide them with moral and emotional support. After a long, painful while, they might see their families with whom they do not quarantine, they might see their friends again too. But that depends, in part, on us. And even though a normal life for a person who works in an ER is beyond anything I could ever construe as normality in the first place, it seems to me “going back to normal” is not something they will ever be able to do. Going through something like this in such a hard way, that'l change ya. The longer the disease spreads at an extreme pace, the longer the ERs will be overloaded, and the longer the sirens will keep on ringing down the streets.
As the refrigerated trucks for victims of Covid-19 have long since begun to overflow, New York City has begun to bury the unclaimed on Heart Island, a small island near the Bronx. 799 deaths in New York from Wednesday to Thursday alone.
A recent NYT's article put the practical reality bluntly, stating: "Nearly 120 morgue workers, assisted by more than 100 soldiers from the Army, the National Guard and the Air National Guard, are working in shifts around the clock, driving rented vans all over the city to pick up bodies."
We count on the selflessness and determination of medical professionals to keep us alive at the times when we are at our worst. They are counting on us now to do our best, and to keep doing it, no matter how hard it gets.

Asta

USA

Origin:

Residence:

Durham, NC

Female

Unemployed new dietitian graduate

Other

The pandemic is hitting me at a rather unique point in my personal and professional lives. Professionally, I graduated in December with a public health degree (though apparently not with the correct specialization!) and finished my licensing procedures in late February, which means I started seriously job searching just as the entire country entered various forms of lock down. I believe I'm actually one of the few in my graduating class without a full-time job because I was 90% sure about an opportunity, which I saw disappear right before my eyes due to some bureaucratic snags. To make matters worse, I started working at a new bar after graduation and was subsequently furloughed there at all. At this point, I am bracing myself for the reality that I will be financially ruined before I get to really start this new career I've spent the last 4 years chasing. I'm staring $55,000 of student loans in the eye with a devastating economic recession. I've retrained into the healthcare industry, but it doesn't help that so many hospitals in this area have gone on various forms of hiring freezes (or drastically reducing HR staff). The shittiest part of all this is I can't even engage in the privilege-reeking suggestion of free labor (I mean volunteer work) for more "experience" when everything's shut down.

Despite the economic uncertainty and feelings of doom, this pandemic actually works out personally for me. In my last year and a half of my master's program, I had my nose to the grindstone trying to juggle extra courses, 30+ hours of work in various part time jobs, and a serious relationship. It left me utterly exhausted and drained. Now, I have all the time in the world to recenter myself as best I can. I've been able to finish off quite a few personal projects: refinished a small side table that was sitting in storage, finished a couple of crochet projects, spending more time learning Spanish.

The extra time coronavirus affords me has allowed me to delve deeper into new pursuits, primarily bread baking. I have even successfully started a mature sourdough starter, even though I don't care for sourdough that much. The sourdough starter may also serve as a useful bartering item should the economy totally crashes. King Arthur Flour sells theirs for about $8/oz last time I checked. I've been doling it out 12oz at a time to friends so far. I've also been able to cuddle my 20 year old cat a lot more, much to her delight.

Even though I know my economic situation is precarious, I also see the amount of privilege I have as I wait to weather out this pandemic. Working so many hours in the last year and a half allowed me to save quite a bit to live off of (though very frugally), and this savings has also kept me from taking one of the many many many new openings at grocery stores or Amazon warehouses. I'm able to choose not to work in higher risk jobs right now. I also know I can ask my parents for help if I need it, as much as it will wound my pride (but at this point, fuck pride.) I'm also still able to work a little bit through an online work from home job I've had for years that brings enough in to pay for rent (and food now that I've stopped eating out).

All in all, I'm not doing that poorly in the very short term. Who knows how things are going to change in the coming months?

Grocery store department manager

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Male

Grocery store department manager

Working as usual

My daily life has shifted mostly to supporting the rest of the store. My department has essentially shut down and we have sent almost 50% of our employees to work overnight grocery or working on the in store sanitation team. The days are quiet mostly. There are weekly meetings involving corporate. When the outbreak began, the meetings were more severe with drastic steps to slow the curve throughout the company. Our self serve buffet has closed, our hours of operation have shifted, and a large portion of our store has been closed off to the general public. It was chaotic during the first week of March. Customers were elbow to elbow trying to get anything they could lay their hands on. Customers would come in and buy all of the meat products, paper product (toilet paper, napkins, toilet paper), cleaning products, and sanitation products. We have had a line wrapped around our store every morning since the first week of March. We have finally resorted to only allowing a certain amount of customers in at a time to keep them away from the employees and to also keep distance from themselves. My coworkers on the management staff are uneasy. They’re scared because of the virus, possibly catching it, and going down. I have attributed it to the plot of the movie “The Thing”; the one with Kurt Russell. If you haven’t seen it, an alien is a shape shifter, turns into people you trust, and then infects you. You don’t know if you have it and neither do your compatriots until it rears it’s ugly head. We are all waiting for the day that this goes away. We’re waiting for the day when our lives go back to normal. You truly see the nature of “people” during times of crisis. We have customers fighting each other, customers harassing employees at the registers and customer service, and we have customers who are bored and come in and walk around not buying anything. The idea of this Social Distancing thing is for people to just stay home and flatten the curve. They aren’t listening nor do they care. I saw someone come in wearing a ladies sanitary towel as a face mask. It’s crazy, to say the least. As for myself, I am nervous. I spend most of my days holed up at a single table in a corner that no one can find me in unless they look hard enough. My hands are cracked and dry from the amount of times I’ve been washing them and I’ve been full time wearing a face mask. It feels like a war we never wanted to fight. We, essential grocery employees, are on the front lines and we were never prepared for this. Everyday is completely different and there’s no end in sight.

I’m indifferent. Most people don’t care around here, come in when they don’t need to, stock up on things they don’t need, and leave people who truly need things out of luck.

Joseph Schuman

USA

Origin:

Residence:

Washington, DC

Male

Program Manager, Department of Defense; Engineering Staff Officer, Maryland Air National Guard

Working as usual

Oddly, my life has personally not changed much due to the COVID pandemic. I still commute to the office and comeback to my row house in Washington, DC with my five housemates. I have experienced minor changes--metro is emptier, fewer people in Crystal City, lunch spots are closed, the office is mostly empty, my housemates are working from home, no bars on the weekend, pools and gym are closed--but nothing major. Those around me have been much more affected, though. My older sister is a fourth year medical student at the University of Connecticut. Her fourth year classes, Match Day, and graduation have all been cancelled or conducted remotely. The hospital she matched with--NYU Bellevue Hospital--was just featured on CNN last week for having a tent morgue on the street. My younger sister shipped off to Air Force Basic Training last week. It looked likely that training would be put on hold or cancelled. Future class dates are being relocated and postponed, so she was lucky to get there. She is now in quarantine for 14 days at Basic Training, which I cannot imagine is an enjoyable experience. One of my housemates was laid off from his job as an Executive Assistant at a non-profit, having just started one month ago. A friend from college has had to cancel his bachelor party and will likely have to postpone his wedding. Half of my Maryland National Guard unit has been activated to respond to the crisis, although I am not eligible. So, I consider myself lucky to have minimal inconveniences, good health, and financial security.

I think the pandemic has had both positive and negative impacts. In some sense, community has been weakened, since people cannot meet friends at restaurants and bars, attend religious services, or hang with coworkers. The normal event cadence of Washington, DC has been stopped, IM sports leagues have been cancelled, and parties are postponed. In another sense, however, community is finding a way. I have been on three Zoom happy hours this past week, have reached out with and connected with family and friends virtually, and spent more time with my housemates. It is not quite the same, but people are doing the best they can with the situation.

I think charitable impacts will be significantly impacted, especially with a prolonged economic downturn. I donate 10% of my income to charity and will continue to do so, but people who have lost jobs or have to take care of family health issues will not be able to do so. I run a 501c(3) non-profit and we are actively engaged with foundations for fundraising, so I expect that process to become much more difficult as well.

Ben Roberts

UK

Origin:

Residence:

Manchester

Male

Working from home

Sunday, 29-Mar-2020
That’s ten days now since I have been outside at all and twelve since the lab closed. Now, that was a farce. We were given 5 hours’ notice that all the university (Manchester, UK) buildings were shutting and it takes a tad longer than that to make sure everything is shut down and safe; luckily that was just enough time for one last run of kinetic measurements before stopping. Other universities gave at least a day’s notice, if not longer, that they were officially shutting down research activities, so it looks like it was just the uni admin panicking and making daft decisions again. They dealt with the undergrads even less effectually, stopping a second-year lab session half-way through. Apparently, some random guy (i.e. not a trained chemist) came in at about lunch time and yelled that they all had to stop and get out of the building “NOW!” and started unplugging things. They acted as if it were some fast-moving emergency, like a fire, and everyone would all die if they stayed a moment longer. What difference would it have made? The undergrads had all spent the whole morning together anyway so it just seems like unnecessary mess and panic.
I saw some people from the lab a couple of days after we were sent home, but since then I haven’t left the house. It’s probably not strictly necessary, but I would like to minimise any real-world interaction in case I do inadvertently spread the virus. The lack of testing and the large number of mild and symptomless cases is a real issue. Also, I find the prospect of going outside with nowhere to go utterly depressing. I will admit that there is an aspect of competitiveness in not going out as well: I partly just want to see if I can cope mentally and how long I can eke out the food I had in the house. Not having bought anything more than I usually would have, I’m slightly surprised, but pleased to see that I had this much contingency in my normal cooking routine. Things are starting to run low now though, so I’ll have to venture out in the next few days.
Boredom-wise, I’m doing OK. I’m lucky in that I have a fair bit of writing to do for various things and of course this helps too. Fortuitously, we had just started setting up a collaboration to try to work out the non-equilibrium thermodynamics our chemistry with some physicists in Luxembourg. It’s very exciting, but it makes my head hurt after a bit. We had been going to go and meet them in person, but instead we’ve had over ten hours of calls on Zoom to discuss various aspects of the project. As there is a fair amount of work, but none of it need be lab based, this is pretty ideal at the moment. There’s also the first draft of a manuscript to write, even though we’ve not finished getting the data for that project yet, and we want to get a second draft of our review done before our supervisor gets inundated with other review articles by bored members of the group. In case I actually make it sound as if I’m working hard though, I also bought a PlayStation and have been playing through “The Last of Us” finally. It seems fitting to be playing a game set in a post-apocalyptic world following a deadly pandemic. We’ve also been doing daily zoom calls to do the crossword and other puzzles, just like we would do if we were still in the lab. Some normality prevails.
Otherwise, the days are definitely melding together, and my sleep pattern is currently utterly fucked (to use a technical term). I’m writing this at 0315 for some bizarre reason. I’ve been mostly avoiding the news as there doesn’t seem to be much new happening and it’s all so depressing. Science is always more comforting, so I’ve just been focussing on that instead. Twitter is also a horrible cesspit of bile (as usual to be fair), mainly about how the Tories are trying to kill everyone, especially nurses, the vulnerable etc. For what it’s worth, I think that the (usually moronic) government did ok with this one. They followed their pre-made plan and when evidence came in that they needed to do something differently, they did. Maybe they were a bit slow about it, especially given what had been happening elsewhere, but as it’s not my area, I feel I shouldn’t criticise too much. That said, it’s deeply ironic that they’ve all gotten sick.
On a lighter note, I’ve found it amusing that having come out of the lab, I’m probably washing my hands less, on average, than usual. Paranoia about chemical contamination usually means I wash them a lot and I’m finding less excuse to wash them currently, so my dry skin on my knuckles is having a chance to recover finally. Silver linings hey?

It's really hard to tell this early on, but I like to think that the crisis shows how important these all are. I think it would be unrealistically optimistic to say that this is sufficient to reverse all the trends of the past four years though.

Candy

China

Origin:

Residence:

Hong Kong

Female

Student

Working from home

Panic

Weakened community solidarity by exposing government’s uselessness

Jeannie

Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Derby England

Female

Cleaner

Working as usual

I work at bombardier as a cleaner and I am getting stress out as I have grandkids and the only PPE they give us is gloves they haven't give us a letter to say we are at work so if I get stop by the police I will get fined

They haven't done enough to help us

DR

Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Birmingham/UK

Male

Biomedical Scientist

Working as usual

I work in the NHS, in cancer services, all procedures are 'business as usual' until further notice. Drop off in non urgent cases (routine surgical, low priority biopsies etc) but numbers for urgent and priority cases remain as before, during this time people will still have cancer and their care should not be compromised as efforts are being redirected to coronavirus care. In my specialist area (breast cancer) our workload is in fact increasing and we are taking every effort to meet turn around times.

How the NHS has treated staff in this time has resulted in great frustration to many: repeatedly downplaying risks to staff, offering bare minimal support for parents, carers or those with underlying conditions, communicating to staff a sense of 'England expects you to do your duty' without telling us we are valued to our faces. Virus testing is not offered to staff, nor is it offered to members of staff or the public with mild symptoms (at time of writing an estimated 40% of cases have mild clinical presentation) which is decreasing reported numbers.

I have not been obliged to remain home and isolate, my daily routine is not much changed except that I wash my hands more often after interacting with people or opening doors (I follow NHS handwashing technique rather than the government 20 second rule). Conversation has gotten more negative and depressing though, as the coronavirus is the only topic most people want to talk about, whether they are informed or not. I have read a small reports and scientific journals from Italy and China to try and keep myself as informed as I can. I am on reddit and use that to keep me updated on international news and provide first hand accounts (not all are reliable).

My family lives in Ireland, my father is immuno compromised and it is very frustrating to be unable to visit due to the restrictions on air travel and because I am afraid to put them at risk. They listen to and believe many sensational stories, conspiracy theories and the like, to my great frustration.

I am in a long distance relationship (5hrs apart by train) and this has proven difficult to manage. We stopped visiting each other in mid February as the number of cases of coronavirus began to rise. We call or video call several times a week but the distance is difficult. She recently got offered a job in Birmingham and we were anticipating her moving here within the next couple of months, however she is now in limbo as we wait for the end of the current crisis and for things to get back to normal. Her family and friends are overseas and the distance and fear causes her great anxiety.

I have been taking the virus seriously since China locked down) if it is something to panic China to that extent, it must be very serious), i have not stockpiled or bought additional PPE however once people began stockpiling I bought some dried foods (lentils, peas, beans) in anticipation of a shortage. I have been utterly dismayed by the attitude of people in the UK, for want of a better word there was a sense of great arrogance or hubris similar to the attitudes surrounding Brexit; it's just a stiff flu, we'll be fine, it won't happen to us, we can keep calm and carry on. An i feel that this has needlessly endangered a great many people. Even as the death toll was rising I noticed people coughing unprotected on public transport, hacking and spitting, gathering in large groups in public. It is only in mid to late march that people have started to take it seriously at all and even then they have been flouting the government guidance.

Government response has been flawed and slapdash in my opinion, measures were taken to secure the economy and support businesses before ones to support public safety and well-being. These have been framed as suggestions and guidance rather than law and people have been treating them as something they can ignore, businesses too. The impression we get from the government is hubris, they believed things would not be as bad as they are now getting, they wanted to protect the economy before the citizens. Events seem to keep getting on top of them despite evidence that this would be an escalating crisis.

The media has lost my trust even more through the last few weeks, the BBC news website is filled with watered down opinion pieces or '10 things to do to beat the coronavirus blues' rather than keep us informed of the news. Boris took measures to gain emergency powers that was limited to 3 months at a time but it was barely mentioned in the BBC news at all, likewise army units were seen taking up stations in London and this was only belatedly reported on BBC and Sky news a day later. Where the BBC has been promoting the 'keep calm and carry on' attitude, the newspapers have been whipping people into a panic.

The weekend of 21st to 22nd of March saw people flock to beaches, parks and city centres for one last hurrah before the expected lockdown. Day one of the lockdown (24th March, the date of writing) the roads were still busy, I observed that the previously quiet park that I walk through on the way to work, was full of joggers and people walking their dogs. I anticipate the government will announce or more strongly enforce public safety measures, and perhaps they should because people still seem to be convinced that they will not be affected.

My expectations of the following weeks is that the daily death toll will grow and grow for several weeks, the NHS will struggle to stay on top of the situation and may be unable to, people will continue to flout the recommendation to socially distance themselves and exacerbate the situation. There will be great anger at the government (why didn't they do more sooner? ') and big business and hopefully there will be calls for labour reforms.

Jonathan McChesney

N. Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Antrium

Male

Software developer

Working from home

My home life has been relatively unaffected until now. I live a bit future in to the country, leaving the house to get some exercise or to get essentials doesn’t disrupt the normal flow. I’ve seen and physically spoke to only my family, but I’ve been on skype with a larger number of friends in the evening. I haven’t felt any strong feelings of social isolation, nor have I panic bought any essentials. Hobbies such as art and gaming have been very useful to pass the time. Work has been changed drastically, we are now full time working from home, which personally I enjoy. Our countries response has been inconsistent, it’s only been very recently where the lockdown became enforced with only a small number or occasions in which we are legally allowed to leave our houses.

Sasha Conlon

United Kingdom

Origin:

Residence:

Belfast

Female

Trainee Solicitor

Working from home

My routine has been entirely disrupted by the pandemic. I would go as far as saying that it feels as though normal life has come to a complete halt. I am training to qualify as a solicitor, so my course at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University has been stopped. The directors of the course are using the online learning platform Canvas to try to continue our learning, but it’s simply not the same as a real class that you attend in person.
My exams will proceed in an online format, which is very strange to me and to my classmates as this is not the usual procedure.
I would normally go out regularly for a coffee or a meal with friends and family, so I very much feel the absence of that at this current time.
I am lucky that I live at home with my mum and my brother so I do not have to isolate alone entirely. I am also lucky that my home is very comfortable and we have managed to buy adequate supplies for the lockdown period. I resent the fact that people have been bulk-buying and stockpiling in the supermarkets, because it has just forced a reactionary selfishness whereby everyone feels the need to stockpile on goods because there won’t be anything left, leaving the most vulnerable of us with nothing at all.
I feel that the UK government could have acted much sooner and in a more decisive manner when the Coronavirus became a threat to the country - the government’s approach initially left the hospitality and entertainment industries out to dry with no protection, and whilst I welcome the financial support measures that have now been announced, I believe that the government should have called for a proper lockdown much sooner than this by following the example of other countries.
Overall, a pandemic such as this just shows us that we take the little things for granted, and we should be more grateful for what we have and what we can do.

Michael J. Ernst

U.S.A.

Origin:

Residence:

Philadelphia

Male

Ph.D. Student

Working from home

The coronavirus has not been especially hard for me with regard to some lifestyle changes. As a graduate student I spend a lot of time already locked in my apartment doing work. Plus, my grandparents grew up during the Great Depression and I lived with them when I was younger, so I am used to eating canned foods and dried goods. I probably love Spam more than most. However, the toll it has taken is on my mental health, especially with my anxiety issues, as well as on the mental health of my friends.

I think it weakened community solidarity, but increased charitable aid and international co-operation to some extent.

Steve Gift

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Harrisburg

Male

Self-employed CPA

Working as usual

Very isolating event. Cook most meals. Do eat out occasionally. Social distancing when needed but very little interaction with others. Cabin fever!

Long term strengthening will happen.

Mac Tonascia

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Baltimore

Male

Doctor

Working as usual

The Coronavirus pandemic hit during the latter half of my in turn year of medicine. I work at a community hospital in Baltimore, and it was clear that we were all caught off guard by this .I actually admitted the very 1st patient that was suspected of having Coronavirus at our hospital, and understandably at that point it was a bit of a mass. We didn't know what we were dealing with, so everybody was in a little bit panic. This patient did not have Coronavirus (turns out he was actually having a heart attack and just happen to be working at the airport) , but it was a good exercise in showing us what we didn't know and what we needed to improve. As the weeks went on and we started to get more patients, in the hospital and other medical programs in the area developed plans on the fly. It was simultaneously very nerve wracking but also very exciting to be participating in medicine during this time, as it's not very often that we have something new that we don't know how to manage. At the time of this writing, testing is still currently taking between 3 to 7 days to come back. There are rumors that there is a 45 minute test coming, which would drastically improve our ability to execute patient care, as currently as long as somebody is under investigation we have to assume that they have Coronavirus which puts a great strain on our resources common namely masks and gowns and face shields. The Surge everybody's anticipating has not hit yet, however as cases continue to increase we are currently preparing for the worst. I hope that social distancing/responsible radius/no trouble bubble/whatever you want to call staying away from people works, but we are all afraid them what is happening in Italy and New York will come to our city and completely overrun our system.

And a very local level, the Corona virus has done some really cool thing this period the block I live on a has started to organize weekly concerts featuring local musicians who currently can perform due to everything being close. Everybody comes out and sits on her porch while the musician plays in the middle of our small street. It's very cool and has really brought our street together.

Karen

China

Origin:

Residence:

Hong Kong

Female

Student

Other

My process of learning from home is quite efficient, the teachers are teaching in an effective way as there will sometimes be some interaction sessions. I mainly speak to my classmates and friends virtually and I have several conversations with my family manners. I’ve consumed quite a number of news recently, such as the current situation of the spread of virus around the globe and measures we can take to prevent ourselves from getting infected. I’ve been staying home for meals prepared by my maid. I’ve been doing regular exercises to keep my body fit and healthy, and hopefully to boost my immune system.

I think the pandemic has strengthened community solidarity as everyone comes together to fight against the disease, people are more willing to send out the materials they have to help the needy. For international cooperation, to some extend it has been strengthened as countries unite to face the disease. Yet, to a small extent, it has been weakened since some countries are unwilling to adopt the preventive measures or even blaming the other countries for spreading the disease.

Rose Hester

USA

Origin:

Residence:

New York City

Female

Teacher

Working from home

It is almost Midsummer. Phases are in effect, "things" are opening up, and the sun is shining here in Brooklyn way too much, almost as if to make up for the gloominess of Spring. Although these "things" (outdoor dining, hair salons, etc.) are opening up, I am not as elated as I thought I would be. Maybe I have become so accustomed to seclusion I have forgotten how to walk toward the path of freedom. Maybe I have become apathetic, hardened by the New World Order of "things" to really muster up much enthusiasm. Or maybe I just need to worry less about what "things" open up, and focus more on opening up my still-shattered, still-shuttered mind.

I think the pandemic has opened up our minds to appreciating how much we have to share with others, and how mutually compassionate we can be even in the face of fear and uncertainty. I appreciate the small gestures more than ever now-- the opening of doors for and by others, but with kindly masked caution; the mundane act of receiving change from the store clerk, but with a tender, distanced care; and the haven't-been-done-much-since 9/11 act of reaching out a literal helping hand (albeit one covered in latex). All of these mind- openers, however extraordinary, are unfortunately, due to human nature, often temporary.

Kim F

USA

Origin:

Residence:

New Jersey

Female

Teacher

Working from home

When I started teaching, everyone told me that the first year of teaching is the hardest. Little did anyone know what 2020 had in store. I teach Spanish and Art to 400 students in pre-K through eighth grades at two parochial schools. As a second year teacher, I have encountered many challenges, including resistance on the part of students and parents, inadequate learning materials, academic and behavioral issues, meeting the needs of students at various levels of learning all in the same class, and teaching art “from a cart.” Early in 2020, I finally started to feel more comfortable. Then, in early March we began hearing about cases of the novel coronavirus appearing in China, spreading to Italy, and then spreading to the United States. On Friday, March 13, students were sent home with all of their books, “just in case,” while administration set a half-day for Monday so that faculty and administration could meet and make a plan for implementing remote learning, should that become necessary. On Saturday, March 14, the bishop, whose authority supersedes the superintendent’s, announced that we would transition to remote learning immediately.

Walking through the empty school on Monday felt eerie. Working with the other teachers to figure out how to convert an in-person learning model to implement it remotely starting “tomorrow” left our nerves frayed and heads spinning. At least that day I felt like we were a team. In the following days, once teachers also stopped going into the school building, the task felt more like climbing Mount Everest alone, without training, while wearing nothing but a swimsuit. We were alone, unprepared, and without the resources necessary to make an online program work well.

At some point, time seemed to stand still and the days ran together- it felt like a real life version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” I spent hours researching different online learning platforms for managing student work, creating assessments, teaching material, and facilitating student practice. There was no uniformity as each school, and teacher, quickly implemented new online platforms without coordinating with each other. I spent even more time reviewing, acknowledging, correcting, and grading hundreds of assignments submitted via email. I dedicated my spring break (for which I am not paid since I am a teacher who is just shy of full-time status) to attending an online teacher’s conference and trying to come up with new lesson plans. I spent every waking hour working and then I dreamt about work when I finally collapsed in bed late at night, waking early without an alarm due to stress. I felt spent and I pulled every bit of energy from reserves I did not know I had to continue because I had to, for my students’ sake. I saw on social media how some people complained that they were bored because they were suddenly stuck at home with nothing to do. I felt grateful to still have a job and a paycheck, but the exhaustion made it difficult not to feel a little bit resentful thinking of all the things I would like to do if I had any free time at all.

Meanwhile, as parents became crucial to students’ education, I witnessed various levels of involvement and attitudes. There were parents who continued to be very cooperative, making schedules and helping their children get organized. Many parents struggled to work from home and oversee their children’s education. Some parents did their children’s schoolwork for them (by the way, teachers can tell). Some parents made excuses for their children, informing me, for example, that their child could not complete assignments because the book was at school, despite the school having set up various opportunities for books to be picked up. One parent asked if their eighth grader would fail the school year if he failed Art class because he was giving his parents a hard time and didn’t want to do his work. I also found out some of my students’ parents work in the medical field or other essential services and were struggling to keep up with everything once they arrived home at the end of the day. There were also a couple of parents who contracted COVID-19 and had to isolate from their children while caring for them and trying to manage their school work. The situations parents found themselves in ran the gamut, further corroborating the sentiment that “we are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat.”

My students, also, were struggling. Some of my previously dedicated students simply disappeared and I did not see them on Zoom lessons or receive any work from them. I felt like I was teaching to an empty classroom as the students who did attend Zoom class turned their videos off and stopped participating. Many students struggled to get organized and keep up with the workload, even though it was reduced. I heard that a number of my students were struggling with anxiety and depression. Anticipating that this pandemic would be hard on my students, I had included encouraging words in each written lesson and reserved time at the beginning of each video call for students to talk about anything that was on their minds. Later, I also sent supportive emails and scheduled individual Zoom calls to help students who were struggling. The sad part is, I know my efforts could not reach the students who were simply absent.
Before we even got the chance to adjust to remote learning, it was time to start thinking about grades. I heard that some schools had finished the year early and others were grading on a pass/fail basis. Our district finished the whole scheduled term and continued with normal grading, adding a notation on report cards that the last marking period consisted entirely of remote learning. Now, I had to balance the admonition that all students should pass with the reality that some students had not submitted a single assignment. How is it fair to anyone for the students who did nothing to earn a passing grade? Some students, despite repeated reminders to submit missing work and emails to parents, did not submit anything and earned failing grades. Most students did their best and earned grades commensurate with the effort they invested. Realistically, the last marking period grades reflected how well students learned to withstand and adapt to the challenges that were suddenly thrust upon them rather than measuring the level of knowledge attained in a particular subject. Ultimately, this lesson in resilience might serve them better throughout their life than anything I could teach them from a textbook. As for me, I am already planning to spend some of my summer trying to plan for whatever might come next, even as we have no idea what education will look like in the fall.

Andy Jarema

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Clawson, Michigan

Male

Public School Music Teacher

Working from home

I’ve been keeping a diary ever since day one of quarantine. You can think of this as a summary of the writing I have done in the first hundred days since it all happened.

I will forever remember the week when all the cards fell down. On March 10, the first two COVID cases are detected in my home state of Michigan. And yet I go to work. I vote. I get home and sort through some notes I took the day before from a bank advisor telling me how to refinance my home mortgage. The future is intact. Then it is the night of March 11 and I am sitting on my couch watching the news stories unfurl: In addition to Coachella and South by Southwest already being cancelled, both the NBA and the NCAA suspended all of their games. Plus, Tom Hanks has COVID. TOM HANKS! It is odd when these are the measuring sticks of your world, but I can honestly say that was the moment when I knew something was drastically falling apart. Late into the night on March 12, our governor announced that the public schools were closing. The next day, and yes it was a Friday the 13th, was the last time I would see my music students for the foreseeable future. Despite the excitement people associate with kids not having to come to school (snow days and whatnot), there was a sadness that permeated all of the kids I saw that day. There was a sense of loss at not having this thing we do everyday anymore. I will never forget the last words my co-worker Craig said to me: “Andy, I hope I see you again. No, seriously. I really hope I see you again. I am afraid of how the world will look when we get back.” I remember the weather was windy on my way home from school that day. The clouds whipped through the sky, clinging on to these impressionistic orange colors out of a sepia-tinged photograph. I felt a sense of distance and removal, like life was moving through a filtered lens and immediately being processed into history right before my eyes.

The first two weeks after this were rough. The hardest part was the not knowing. Since my wife Danielle and I were both teachers and came into contact with so many people on a daily basis, it was very likely we could have gotten it. We weren’t sure. And of course, the symptoms took 14 days in some cases. I remember a moment when we were sitting on our couch and we both commented on a tightness in our chest. Could this be symptoms? A terrible spiraling thought at first, but then I realized the dark truth: we hadn’t left the couch all day. It was just our compressed ribs and backs screaming in pain. Time moved at an insanely slow pace for those first few weeks. I remember seeing someone on Instagram marvel at how March took 6 years but April took 6 seconds. Something to do with the brain processing new information and how it impedes your sense of time. Once we hit the two week mark, the anxiety flying low over our heads slipped into a higher formation and we slipped into a routine.

So what does it look like to live in quarantine? For starters, I get great sleep. I have neglected to set alarms for weeks on end and still naturally wake up in the ballpark of 7 am. There is still the occasional waking up in the middle of the night with a brain in a terrible state of hyper drive, mind you. Exercising and being outdoors has become a staple. I started off running a couple of miles every day, but that has waned in favor of taking multiple long walks per day. Clawson Park provides a tiny space of nature a block or two from my house that I have been gravitating towards lately. I have been nurturing a two year obsession with bird song, my composer brain continuing to be enamored with the sprays of musical overtones that surround me on a daily basis. Birds are my messengers, my reminder that the natural world is there, is worth protecting. Cooking has also become an important focus. While there are the occasional curbside grocery orders and Instacart deliveries, we have been getting a lot of food boxes: Purple Carrot, Green Chef, Blue Apron, all the other two word food companies with a color in the name. Danielle and I have slowly been transitioning to a vegetarian/vegan diet since last October, and making delicious recipes out of these food boxes has only further cemented our resolve. The bed time routine looks like this: have a beer (one a night has been pretty steady for me), watch something on Netflix/Hulu, then chat with Danielle. She bought this game designed for long term partners to ask each other deep questions. We do one a night and it is great. Despite being a dormant relic of a past life, video games have also re-asserted their importance. We bought a Nintendo Switch. While I am hopelessly wrapped up in the stunning environment of Zelda, Danielle is making measured progress on her town in Animal Crossing. These kinds of escapes into different worlds are so needed. That anxiety is still flying in its holding pattern, after all, and has the capacity to dive bomb you at any given second.

We have implemented a slew of precautions for COVID. Our “sunroom” or “Florida room” has turned into this airlock containment chamber, a transition space between the inside of our house and the outside world. Things like mail and packages generally get thrown in here for a few days of quarantine. Groceries that can’t sit in here get washed off before being put away (experts have kind of debunked this but we still do it anyway). We have a set of “inside” and “outside” clothes that we change in and out of in this room. The only things we generally go out for are walks. Getting in the car is a once a week experience for me now. It feels very strange and foreign, but perhaps that is how operating a fossil fuel guzzling machine should be. And of course, masks. We have several sets of masks that we machine wash every few days. Even on walks around the neighborhood we wear them, which oddly feels like some sort of political statement when it shouldn’t.

Our house use to feel like this transition space in between all of the other places we needed to get to in our lives: work, restaurants, rehearsals, classes. Spending so much time underneath the architecture of your home forces you to reflect on what is special about this space. It also spurs creative projects and house projects, all of which have been abound in our household. We have filmed a few goofy music videos, done some remote photo shoots with some photographer friends, separated out the entire basement into “donate” and “recycle” piles (they won’t get much action until quarantine is over), Feng Shui’ed our bedroom, pulled up flooring in our backroom, and built a cedar planter box from scratch to make our first ever garden.

On a random note: It has been funny seeing the little viral things that have popped up in our everyday lexicon: “social distancing,” “flatten the curve,” “zoom meeting,” “curbside pickup,” “stimulus check,” “Tiger King,” and of course: “toilet paper.”

Social time has been a mixed bag. The introvert in me doesn’t miss a whole lot of things I get to do out, but I have a weird nostalgia for the time I used to be able to go to a restaurant with Danielle. I have loved having the time to call up distant friends I have not had the liberty to talk to in years. Seeing our closest friends (or rather, not seeing them) has been difficult. Zoom calls and facebook chats are a decent stand-in for social time, but it is stressful to have to LOOK AT YOUR OWN FACE on the screen for hours on end, for your brain to constantly be seeking the non-verbal cues in other faces it will ultimately be missing, for the internet connectivity to stop, start, and stutter the conversation. The best thing we do is our weekly Saturday night movie drinking game. Someone picks a movie, we come up with drinking rules, and we all watch it remotely together through a giant conference call. Something we found out very quickly: the audio from everyone’s movie bleeds into the phone, so we moved to a walkie-talkie-like system using the mute/unmute function on our phones.

So that’s it. That’s living in quarantine in a nutshell. If I could wrap it up, it would be something like this: the solitude has been wonderful for an introvert like me, but it is hard to reconcile that with the distant horrors happening outside of my private space.

The George Floyd protests. There is a whole litany of reasons why they are happening now (and why they are long, long overdue), but it is stunning how quickly this has risen up into a movement. Not only has this broken open permission to talk about Black brutality (I never could have imagined seeing “Black Lives Matter” painted on the streets of our nation’s capital), but it has created such a social wave that it is now inappropriate NOT to say something. This social pressure is moving individuals to do powerful things, and this move away from neutrality and into decisive action is exactly what’s needed to move the needle on anti-racist policies.

Ish

India

Origin:

Residence:

Male

Studying at home

My response to the pandemic began in Paris, where I was pursuing the last semester of my masters degree. A couple of days before the lockdown was announced in France, I had bought a lot of groceries, sufficient for a month’s consumption. But, on Friday, March the 13th, Indian government announced that international borders would be closed down indefinitely. Consequently, I had to flee and go back to my hometown.

When I reached my hometown, I was detained at the airport and transferred directly to a nearby quarantine center. This was a requirement as I was returning from a high risk region. The whole procedure was tiring, time consuming and for some.. traumatizing. It was not really the best feeling to be isolated in your hometown. Families, who were waiting at the airport, were not allowed to meet their loved ones returning back home after a long time.

It is a bittersweet story. For instance, the EU was not pleased by the US border closing and travel restrictions imposed for EU citizens, without a consultation with the organisation and countries. Many countries developed hatred towards each other. But, at the same time, there are many nation states working together to find a vaccine or providing each other with medical supplies. I guess, we’ll have to wait to see how the international relationships develop in the coming years.

J.G.

United Kingdom

Origin:

Residence:

Hong Kong

Male

Student

Studying at home

On the 14th November 2019, I stumbled across a petrol bomb on my evening stroll. It had been left in the gutter after the previous evening’s street fighting: a black bottle, with a black rag coming out of the top. I was living in Mong Kok, Hong Kong. This was not the first petrol bomb I’d seen. Nor was it my first encounter with Hong Kong’s turmoil: I’d already been caught in tear gas perhaps five times. But it did for me symbolise the sheer intensity of that moment in the city. Arriving back home, I decided that Hong Kong was no longer safe for my partner and I and we left to spend a few days in Macau. It was difficult to relax while there: I always had an eye on the live streams of astonishing violence back home. At moments, it felt like an all-consuming, overwhelming catastrophe. However, some nine hundred kilometres away, a new cataclysm was just beginning to unfold at almost exactly the same time: cases of COVID-19, the first of which occurred on 17th November at the latest. The conjunction brings home to two truths. First, that epidemics and social conflicts are often entangled. Second, that while dealing with catastrophe, there’s quite possibly another developing quietly in the background.

On the 31st January 2020, I flew from Qingdao to Hong Kong. The epidemic had begun. I’d spend the previous week almost entirely indoors, in the first of the world’s national lockdowns. Taking the high-speed train to Qingdao and then flying to Hong Kong had been intimidating. Cavernous train stations, almost deserted; hazmat suited temperature takers. I wore two masks and attempted to fashion a protective covering from a plastic wallet. Unrest had continued in Hong Kong: I’d seen the photographs of a firebombed quarantine station, knew about the threatened medical workers’ strike. There was a clamour to close the border with mainland China, threatening the possibility of locking me out. I arrived in Hong Kong exhausted and go into a fortnight of self-isolation. I’d considered travelling back to the United Kingdom, where I’m from. I decided against it, as I didn’t want the possibility - however small - of helping to spread the virus. But still, at that moment, the UK seemed a bastion of safety compared to the chaos unfolding in East Asia.

In the early hours of 2nd March 2020, still in Hong Kong, I was pressed up against an X-ray machine and scanned for pneumonia. The previous day, I’d developed a fever and a sore throat and taken myself to be tested. The test came back negative, but I was given a saliva test and told to return it to the hospital the next morning. I arrived home at around 2.30 a.m. The next morning I returned to the hospital, walking so as to maintain a social distance with others, with a bag containing my saliva sample emblazoned with the word: BIOHAZARD. I knew by then it was unlikely I was infected, but it was discomfiting to think of your mouth as possibly filled with BIOHAZARDS. A biohazardous mouth, tongue, throat, which would be vocalising biohazardous words. I was glad to be wearing a facemask and look with consternation on the expat who walked past me without wearing one. A text from the Hospital Authority pings on my phone a tense twenty-fours later: negative.

On the 23rd March 2020, I listened to Boris Johnson’s address to the United Kingdom announcing a national lockdown. Having lived with worries over COVID-19 since mid-January, I’d been letting friends and family know to prepare in advance for isolation: buying pasta, stocking up on frozen vegetables. The rapid escalation in the UK, though, still shocked me. Hong Kong, meanwhile, was escaping relatively unscathed, despite a few ominous local cases and many imported cases during our ‘Second Wave’. A strange reversal has occurred: for nine months, I’ve been receiving worried texts and phone calls from the UK, checking my safety in Hong Kong. Now I’m doing the same to friends and family in England. Hong Kong has surprisingly turned out to be a much better place to be.

On the night of the 23rd May, I am teargassed in my dream for the first time in months. This had happened a lot in the autumn of last year: canisters of teargas shot in improbable surroundings in strange, vivid dreams. They had died down during the long weeks of physical distancing during the time of the worst fears over COVID-19 in Hong Kong. Now, however, one had returned with the announcement of national security legislation to be promulgated in Hong Kong. I’d found out a couple of days before, walking back from a session practising squash serves in a newly reopened court. Hong Kong had returned to normal in many ways. Squash courts had reopened, restaurants were thronging, the university had begun to fill up again. We had come through the ‘Second Wave’ without serious community transmission and it was possible to envision a more normal life once more. It had quickly become clear, however, that we were simply transitioning from a public health cataclysm to another political one.

Five months of coronavirus chaos; a year of political unrest: the two crises for me are hard to separate, are conjoined, intermeshed, entangled. The one seeps into the other and when the one seems to fade the other seems to surge. It’s an academic truism that epidemics are bound to politics, to culture, to societies, but now it’s brought relentlessly home. So too has been the fact that for many of us there was no ‘normal’ into which coronavirus irrupted, and no ‘normal’ into which to subside: catastrophe is something to be lived with, and to focus too exclusively on the one is to be blind to the other developing in the wings.

Bram

Netherlands

Origin:

Residence:

The Hague, The Netherlands

Male

In between jobs

Other

After just having made the decision to quit my studies at Leiden University, I (like the rest of EU citizens) was suddenly shocked by the major COVID-outbreak in Italy. Few days passed until Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister, opted for the first nationally televised speech in our country since 1973. Since then, the country has been in “intelligent lockdown”, with most aspects of life suddenly stopped or changed drastically. For me personally, it has meant that making a plan for the future years of my life has suddenly become an even greater challenge. While the lockdown has provided time to ponder the next steps, it also means lots of uncertainty which complicates planning. I have been able to keep in touch with a few friends in town, and have seen my family a few times too. Now, I am taking the time to read and plan ahead for a post-COVID point in time. Until then, I try to apply for work to create the financial security necessary for a post-university life. Stores have largely kept open, allowing me to do groceries without problems. While I manage to stay occupied, the lockdown does bear on my social life, especially in meeting new social contacts

People seem to come together to provide the necessary help to others in this time. In that, it has activated community ties.

LAURA OLIVAREZ

United States

Origin:

Residence:

San Antonio

Female

Student/Daycare provider

Working as usual

The daycare has decided to make it a requirement to wear the mask. It is extremely hot and hard to breath through. I have tried three different styles to try and find one that feels comfortable. The hours are being cut for many of the teachers. They are being asked to take a day off each week. So far it has not made a difference for me since I only work from 2-6 each day. The only thing is that I normally did not work everyday and when I did I only worked 3:30 - 6:30 so it has been actually more work for me. However, during spring break I was working 12 hour days, so this is better. The only issue is I am back in school now too, and the work is there waiting for me when I get home. I can't say no to it, I have to just do it. Next week is finals and I hope I will feel less stress when they are done.

M

United States

Origin:

Residence:

NC

Female

Broiler Flock Supervisor

Working as usual

Work is fairly normal. What’s changed is we must come to office first thing in the morning to have temperature checked, as well as wear masks while around people. Once on the farm we just keep 6 ft of distance from other people.

At home, most of my meals are cooked by my boyfriend or myself. We get takeout on avg twice a week.
My boyfriend is quarantining with me (living with me) for the month. He nor I go anywhere except grocery store while not at work.

To keep busy we watch movies/tv & do yard work.

I miss seeing & hugging my parents. I do bring them groceries & essentials as they need them but keep my distance. I miss seeing my friends. I do know eventually life will go back to normal as we know it, so I don’t get down about it all. I’d be miserable if I were living alone, though.

It’s strengthened the health of the planet, itself; environmentally speaking. Not sure much has changed, overall, in regards to solidarity; there are still those that argue we should be up & running & then those that want us shut down for months. The left & right will rarely agree, except that Carol Baskins killed her husband. Lol.

I think our Country has learned it’s weaknesses. I worry viral warfare will become a thing to shut our economy down. Luckily next time I think we will have the PPE needed for healthcare personnel, and most likely the federal treasury will start saving money for things like this. As a country we will learn & grow from this.

Sarah

USA

Origin:

Residence:

Baltimore

Female

Student

Other

I'm a full time university student, so now all classes are online. It's kind of a mixed bag. Some professors give live online lectures, while others just post videos for you to watch whenever. Office hours are harder now too. In person, you can ask follow up questions without feeling like you're being too much, but now each follow up email feels like you're being too aggressive or needy.

I'm pretty fortunate to be busy with school work; I keep seeing lists of "to watch" or "to read" but I don't seem to have extra time. I am taking some time to watch Netflix with my sister using one of those browser extensions; it's good to connect in that way. My family also facetimes with my sister up in NYC more often.

In the past, I used to keep up with the news by reading the paper, listening to news podcasts, following twitter, etc, but I really have to limit myself now. One of the news podcasts I follow is now only doing segments about the pandemic, and I just had to take it off my feed because I couldn't take listening to that much reporting. So now I only do really quick checks of the news/podcasts once or twice a day. I feel kind of bad about it, like I'm checking out or something, but honestly it was too stressful to be listening to hours and hours of coverage every day.

I'm living with my parents, who are older, so being the youngest, I make the grocery store runs. Before all this, I used to really like going to the grocery store. You had a task, you solved it; there was delicious food involved... but now, it's hard to enjoy it. Because we're socially distancing, we make a huge list with meals planned out for a week or more, so there's way more planning involved. The mood in the stores is kinda tense too, and you're just hyper-aware of everyone around you. Initially, when there was a big run on food, the bare shelves were depressing and I spent a lot of my shopping trip trolling around trying to see if I couldn't find something because it was gone or because I was looking in the wrong place. Things have settled a bit but cleaning supplies and toilet paper are still hard to find. Sometime odd things will be sold out too, like one time I needed butter and there was plenty of it, unless I wanted salted store brand. Coming back from the store, I have to spend a while washing up too, which takes a while.

I know I'm really lucky (so far), but I'm desperate for this to be over. I'd love to read the newspaper and have multiple different topics discussed, or to go to the movies, or hang out with my friends. I get pretty sad thinking about it some times.

WK

Hong Kong

Origin:

Residence:

Hong Kong

Female

Lawyer

Working from home

Today is 31 March 2020 and the first day that our law firm is activating a shift system--all staff members are split into Team A or Team B and the teams take turns being at work and at home for 2 days at a time, then rotating. This was announced last week after days of double-digit increases in confirmed cases daily in Hong Kong. The city of course has been grappling with the virus earlier than Europe/the US. I stopped socialising and eating out, and only went to work, hikes/walks, buying groceries and medical appointments.

As a christian, church activities & gatherings as well as bible study courses have been moved online. Church service has been recorded by a small group of ppl (worship/sermons/testimony format) and uploaded to Youtube. Fellowship and bible study discussions are taking place via Zoom.

My parents, brother and I live in an apartment. 3 of us are working from home and it feels a bit bizarre with remotely accessing work files and picking up calls forwarded to my mobile. As a family we definitely put the most effort in stocking up masks. I enlisted friends from abroad when the situation was less dire to post masks to me. I now observe queues in DHL points where people are shipping masks they accumulated OUT of Hong Kong to share with others.

There is a slight feeling of isolation but I suppose it is better since I do not live alone and had been working at the office daily prior to today. I keep connecting with local and friends abroad by whatsapp/skype/telegram/instagram/facebook/discord. Screen time on my phone is definitely on the increase. I stay entertained or occupied by reading devotionals, books, posts, watching youtube/netflix, some news programmes, listening to music, taking courses on skillshare, writing poetry....and so on.

I think the pandemic definitely strengthened community solidarity in HK. People continue (mostly) to have a distrust to the government and its policies and are united on that front. Hong Kongers have experienced SARs about 17 years ago and are generally more vigilant about hygiene, wearing face masks etc. People who do not wear masks are a minority.

Jihyun

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Greater China

Male

Investment Analyst

Working from home

This is a reflection of how my perspective on the coronavirus was shaped, and how my inquiry into the virus triggered what was initially a frustration about other people’s reactions that evolved into a broader disillusionment by the current structure of our economy.

On January 25, 2020, news coverage of the novel coronavirus, at the time a local epidemic in Wuhan, started to become a recurring event where I reside in Greater China. Confirmed cases were soaring. But it wasn’t until a WeChat conversation that night with Janet, who lives in Mainland China, that I foresaw the crisis that was about to unfold. Press conferences by authorities — though by no means unique to the Central government — at that time were conducted in a measured tone that belied the gravity of the situation. “At this point, we are still investigating, and we do not preclude the possibility of human-to-human transmission,” so they said.

Not knowing much about the virus aside from these official statements, I remember being unconvinced of the virus' significance, telling Janet, “Nobody has been able to confirm that the virus transmits through humans, right?”

Janet, on the other hand, was deeply concerned. “Are you kidding me? Of course it does.” Janet was more aware of the situation through her much larger network of people in China than I, and didn’t hesitate to share what she was privy to.

“This virus is significantly more contagious than SARS,” a doctor based in Wuhan stated in a closed WeChat conversation. "My personal estimation of the number of people who will be infected is... hundreds of thousands.” This was an eye opener. The Chinese, conditioned to scrutinize public statements and rely on word of mouth, were far ahead than people in democratic nations in obtaining informal information of the outbreak.

That night I decided to conduct a full-on due diligence on the coronavirus. I frantically scoured newspapers like an analyst putting together a last minute powerpoint presentation, pulling together numbers on the number of infected and deceased over time. When data was unavailable in English, I turned to Chinese reports as a last resort using my limited Chinese to plug in the missing gaps. It was already past 3 AM when I completed a back-of-the-envelope estimate and came to the following conclusion: within China alone, 200K+ people would be infected in a month, with a 4% case mortality rate. (While the number of reported cases remains half of that as of end of March, the mortality rate holds true)

This was a huge red flag, especially as someone who believes in data and is wary of high-risk events. (Years ago I gave up my hobby of scuba diving after discovering the risk of death is statistically higher than other sports considered more extreme, including sky diving. Likewise I crave red meat-based meals but painstakingly minimize my intake given its increased risk of causing health complications compared to a plant-based diet.)

Most of the people I have spoken to, however, have downplayed the risk, saying “the mortality rate is ‘only’ 3%” or “it is just like the flu.” The problem is we as humans inherently have a poor understanding of risk. Our perception of risk is falsely altered by our emotions and media exposure to the object of concern (fear of terrorism, for example, despite slipping on in bathtubs being more deadly). Furthermore, we are incapable of differentiating the magnitude of small statistical events, such as a 1 in 100 vs 1 in 1000 chance.

That is why when we see the mortality rate of 3 in 100, we wrongly liken it to the 1 in 1000 rate of the flu -- when in fact we are completely off in the order of 30x. (Imagine conflating a 1% death rate with a 30% one to understand the scale of this error.) Despite the implications of this data, I am appalled by the ignorance and risk-taking behavior of some (mostly male) of my peers, who are in denial of the dangers of socializing in groups and seem to believe being “masculine” means showing fearlessness bordering on carelessness.

What I am more disillusioned by is how this event represents the utter misallocation of resources in this world. The irony is that in this day in age humanity is accomplishing things on an incredible scale. We’re able to connect Wall Street investors with investees, from local manufacturers in China to startups in Silicon Valley. We also direct an extraordinary amount of human and monetary resources into promising companies and technologies. $50bn of VC investment was made into fintech in 2019 alone. The most brilliant minds are working on futuristic problems such as putting ordinary people on the moon and AI in surgery rooms. I am not against these endeavors — one day, the moon could serve as a refuge if our planet ceases, and AI-assisted medicine could save millions of lives.

But the coronavirus crisis exposed a major flaw in our current system: in spite of the talent and dispensable amount of capital our world has, we were caught unprepared for what would be the greatest medical crisis of our lifetimes. Hospitals are struggling to secure enough ventilators to cope with an influx of patients in critical condition. Airlines, hotel operators, restaurant and bar owners are so short on liquidity that they cannot manage to sustain their cash flow without laying off employees.

Why have we spent a disproportionate amount of energy in space travel that may or may not become a possibility for a privileged group of individuals in our generation? Why are we not listening to experts who had warned us of not only of this pandemic, but are also warning us of earthquakes, environmental disasters, nuclear meltdowns that are likely to strike within the next 20-30 years?

There could obviously be a number of factors: for one, it’s difficult to define if any problem is inherently more important than another; Two, people have their own right to pursue their interests and contribute to the world in their own way. My belief is that it’s an incentive and mindset problem.

Our society is structured to optimize for the wrong metrics that are often at odds with social stability: a moral hazard. The current system is set up in such a way that people managing the corporations are rewarded for their profitability, and corporations are rewarded for driving up valuations. And we are not immune to this responsibility, for we as consumers also expect to be rewarded by higher GDP (incomes) and more valuable stock markets. Our notion of success is also skewed: our culture promotes a mindset that worships big gamblers who symbolize fearless leadership, over analytical risk management experts who strive to mitigate the risks exposed by bets. Take for example the idolization of SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son, hailed as a god-like legend in the business world. He invested over $10bn just on co-working office spaces through WeWork. Regardless of whether it will turn out to be a good investment, we tacitly approve of this type of behavior and even encourage others to follow. We are all complicit in this for as long as we are part of the system.

Granted, our economic model has its advantages — it would be naive to throw out the capitalist model in favor of a purely communist or socialist economy. There is no doubt that our financial system and entrepreneurship are essential to society. Financial institutions enable corporates big and small to carry out their businesses with ample financing and liquidity, and entrepreneurship could potentially solve the very problems that plague society.

Perhaps it is time, though, to reflect if our economic model from the 20th century that is overly dependent on and driven by the market economy still fits our society today. That could involve asking ourselves tough questions. For example, are we willing to make tradeoffs between financial wealth vs a balanced set of indicators of wellbeing, such as long-term social and health stability? I don’t expect our capitalist economy to change overnight, but if anything I wish this crisis serves as a lesson and triggers a small mindset change as to what we value as a society: we’re currently obsessed with rainmakers and “visionary” tech leaders, but to ensure our current world and standard of living can continue is as challenging and fulfilling a task going forward.

No comment

Ferdi Adeputra

Indonesia

Origin:

Residence:

Jersey City

Male

Software Engineer

Working from home

I’m mostly an introverted person so the being at home did not really bother me. Working is tougher due to the fact that my setup is not made for working. Overall the greatest challenge has been to support my team while not knowing how I can help them since a lot of the problems aren’t work problems but personal problems

It has strengthened the community from all the different groups helping crowdfund people who lost their jobs and also the people in the front lines. However the xenophobia has also increased for Asians so it’s a mixed bag

Evelyn

Northern Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Belfast

Female

Unemployed

Unemployed

I am totally isolated from my family my daughter drives up leaves essentials at door where I live is shelterd swilling 56 residence in total although independent living we have to use two washing machines between 50 0t these tenants i have chosen to do mine by hand as communal hallways are not the distance required no sanitized in this building it is choice housing association some tenants are choosing to come and go as they please using no gloves or protection I have chronic anxiety and PTSD I dont go out at all but now I cant do it I want to do my mind races unbelievable how some tenants are so selfish and disrespectful may I add the age group in here is 48 up to 87 and even a lady at 80 attitude was well I've lived my life didn't seem to care how younger ones feel.

Charitable people have more concern for tenants than housing associations tenants which I worried about are some of the people going in and out we have one tenant MR AULD who has tried his best but of no avail

Yip Yuk Lum Jennifer

Singapore

Origin:

Residence:

Singapore

Female

Graduate Student

Working from home

In a matter of ten days, I packed up my life in Philadelphia and took an 18-hour flight home. It was all so quick that even after I got into bed in my own room, I still couldn't quite register what had happened. As with all returning nationals (at least by this time), I was issued a mandatory 14-day stay-at-home notice. Even though I am largely confined to my bedroom - we installed a baby gate at my door to prevent my puppies from following me in - I am glad to be with my family.

I wouldn't call the experience cabin fever. I'm sure I am not alone in being consumed by an aching desire to help in whatever little way I can. I spend most of the day searching for these ways - building this project with my colleagues, as well as starting small initiatives of my own. Working on these things has put me back in touch with a lot of friends, and helped me stay in touch with even more. Ironically, I feel solidly connected! I'm also grateful that my closer friends are happy to schedule virtual breakfasts/lunches, and my extended family are also more frequently in conversation.

The joke goes that PhD candidates don't really have to make changes to their work patterns - we are all used to taking our work home with us. The biggest accommodation I've had to make is to teach online at wee hours of the morning, which is fine by me given the jetlag.

It is incredibly heartening to see the flurry of charitable activity in Singapore and elsewhere. My peers are stepping up to help more vulnerable groups in whatever way they can, and there is also heartfelt and sophisticated reflection on what the crisis has revealed about the imperfections of our society. For every story of selfishness or thoughtlessness, there is another story of compassion. I hope that this enthusiasm won't fizzle out with fatigue, and that we will sustain enough momentum to keep addressing these imperfections beyond the pandemic.

Thomas Kaden

US

Origin:

Residence:

Mt Holly Springs

Male

Executive Director of NPO

Working from home

Changes to work patterns

Alejandro Martín González

Spain

Origin:

Residence:

Spain

Male

Biophysicist

Working from home

I has to remain under self-quarantine for, at least, 25 days. This changed my work plans as I had to start a new job at the Netherlands which had to be postponed. I work at the "Centro National De Biotecnologia" which is the research center in charge of developing a vaccine for the coronavirus in Spain.

Vanessa

United States

Origin:

Residence:

New York

Female

Consultant

Working from home

I wake up later than a normal work day (now around 9am) as I save the time normally spent for getting ready and commuting. As a consultant, working from home is not too challenging as we are used to conference calls in general. However, I do find myself more sedentary now without the office coffee/bathroom breaks.
By around 11am, I would take my dog out for a walk. I hope to avoid people as I assume this is the time most people are working from home. In reality, though, there are still a decent amount of people on the streets, so the walk is usually just around the block, for about 10min. On the way home, my dog is instructed to sit in the hallway. I would use a lysol wipe to wipe him (especially paws) before allowing him inside, where I would use a warm towel and purrell spray to clean him. I would continue working and my work day ends around 6pm.
I am usually a big fan of workout classes, and that is an activity I miss most. I have signed up for several zoom workout classes to keep up my activity level which still sharing the socialization aspect. I also do that to help support my favorite instructors who are out of work.
I usually prepare meals at home myself. I have ordered delivery twice since working from home, and I would consciously remind myself to order hot food just to be safe.
I have definitely watched more TV and read more books. I have also used zoom for group chats and drinking parties with family and friends.

Edward Penn

Usa

Origin:

Residence:

NYC

Male

Manufacturers representative in women's apparel

Other

Corona has completely changed our lives. The industry I work in has shutdown! We have no idea when it will start up again. We are hoping by July. It is crazy. We are at the beginning of this and they are telling us in 2 weeks we will go from 30,000 to 150,000 cases. They are telling. Us it is only going to get worse. My husband has asthma and that makes me nervous. Like everyone else I know we have stocked on paper towels and toilet paper. We have a disinfectant closet with sprays , rubbing alcohol aloe Vera gel. Purel is nonexistent. We have been buying groceries 2 days a week. We go early in the morning to avoid lines and crowds. We wait for the daily updates from governor Cuomo.


Right now everyone is scared and isolated.

Sarah Yu

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Philadelphia

Female

Graduate Student

Working from home

I am used to working from home and already have everything I need to write my dissertation. I am lucky to have a beagle to keep me company (and require walks, feeding, water, etc., because otherwise I will forget these things for myself) and a comfortable home office. As a historian of public health and hygiene in the early twentieth century, I am currently working on a paper about how the government and the public tried to prohibit people from spitting on the street. I spend a lot of my mornings reading the news from 100 years ago. Sometimes I feel optimistic about all the initiatives taken back then, and then I feel a bit gloomy about today.

I talk to my fiance, with whom I live, and I try to make one to two phone calls a day to family overseas. I have also been cooking a lot -- some of the highlights in the last week include roasted pork tenderloin/mashed sweet potatoes/broccoli rabe, shepherd's pie, Taiwanese three cup chicken, oven-roasted tandoori chicken, bread, bulgogi beef... And because of all the cooking I am also constantly washing my hands. Besides dog walking, writing, cooking, and preparing to move house (fingers crossed our movers do not cancel), I would like to thank the games Stardew Valley and The Sims 4 for keeping me company. I've stopped really reading the news, but I sometimes listen to a news podcast as I'm cooking or walking. I have planned several "projects" for the near future, including planting things in my new yard and knitting.

I have been following the news of the new disease since early January. (I am sometimes sent certain news items that are not always readily available in the mass media) I have strong feelings about the lack of action on the part of the Chinese government at the beginning, and had even gotten into several debates on social media about it around early February. The pandemic mood has taken a while to get to Philadelphia, so I guess the stress of the pandemic has been a slow burn for me. Being a household of two people, we haven't had to stockpile, but we did snag a 10-lb bag of rice.

It has done all of the above. What a time to live in paradoxes.

Bru Callaghan

Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Gods Country

Male

Benefit Worker

Working as usual

Kinda all over the place, work places still open and people aren't taking anything serious.

It's been good for my community, we've worked out food packages for the poor and elderly and stuff and have provided all the essentials needed to get by.

Cindy Wong

Origin:

Residence:

Hong Kong

Female

Working from home

Work adjustment - need to stay agile and think out of box, adapt to virtual / remote working

Strengthened

Rasha Firdous

India

Origin:

Residence:

Delhi

Female

Student at middle school

Studying at home

Today, we all are in lockdown because of Covid-19 disease. Because of the lockdown we are not able to meet our friend's, family, etc, but that's still tolerable. But I feel sad for the workers / labourers because they are now left with no place to live, no work, no food, now they have to face both poverty and Coronavirus. I am in my own house with my Family, I keep myself occupied by studying, watching tablet/TV or playing and drawing/crafting. I see many changes in the scientific studies online.

Lauren Thompson

England

Origin:

Residence:

London

Female

Student

Studying at home

hi, im lauren and im from northwest london and im in year 9. my school is using a really good program called microsoft teams to do school from home. It is currently wednesday the 8th of july 2020, the uk lockdown was enforced on the 23rd of march. everyday i get up at 8:15 which is sick becuase i get a lie in, i go and get myself some breakfast and go back up to my room to start school. first i have form time, we do a short call to do the register and then go to our first lesson. we have 7 lessons a day, 2 breaks and 2 form times. my school has kept the same timings as a day actually in school. i dont mind this, as it keeps some structure to the day. during the school day i listen to a lot of music, and am usually am almost constantly facetiming my friends, as i miss them a lot. earlier in the lockdown, after school i would have something to eat, chill with my family, bikeride to the park or just relax and listen to music in my room. but now the lockdown is a bit eased, i often go out after school to see friends, as socially distanced as we can bare. we try, but sometimes we might be closer then allowed. but its difficult. i will then eat dinner with my family and watch a bit of tv, sometimes we would have zoom calls or quizzes in the evening, or i would cycle round to see my cousins (from a distance) as they live very near. lockdown and this pandemic has been very difficult, but im coping as well as i can, and i am very privileged compared to many so im very grateful.
much love to everyone
lauren :)

i feel the community has been strengthened. my family have become really close with our neighbours both sides, which wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for corona. everyone says hi to each other in the streets, and try to keep away from others, you can see spirit in the community and its really nice. i have been trying to educate myself on all the other terrible things going on in our world also, and i've signed petitions and donated as much as i can, which wouldn't have happened as much if i didn't have time to read up and inform myself on everything.

Arya

India

Origin:

Residence:

Ghaziabad

Female

Student

Studying at home

Dear Diary
2020 has bought along with it a new year, new experiences and new challenges. I believe its human mental strength test and nature's revenge to human harm and God's message of world unity as everyone fights with the virus in the same way and the whole world is going through it. Coming to my personal experience, it has definitely been a tough time since I couldn't meet my friends or go out of my society for any sort of party or outing. I couldn't go out to school and stay away from my house for some time away from my family and my parents have definitely had fights on cleaning and household work, at least going to school would save me from being part of that scenario and thinking about it. Plus I was at home so I was told a lot to stay organized and had to hear wavering taunts that I really didn't like though I live in a flat so I had the floor to savd me so I could go there for some outing if I wanted. But ya I didn't have a terrace in because it's a flat so there was not much sports proportion in my daily life, but as having some experience of being a sporty and athletic person, not giving up in tough times, and finding alternatives, I found an alternative to this problem that was that we had some utility area that I measured and approximated the fraction of it to the path where I actually run and guessed the number of rounds that I need to run to make up that path in the utility area. Then I also realised that maths is really helpful in many places actually. The utility run really worked though that turned out to be 100 rounds of the utility run with stoppage on ends which definitely hampers breathing but difficult things definitely help us so I still did it and actually realised that for doing anything, you don't need resources, you just need determination, dedication and discipline. Plus without that discipline there won't be any benefit. Cause regular monitored hard work can only make up a true human and true skill or true talent. Also, for my basketball practice I couldn't really go to the court, though I could in the beginning so I did so, but then everyone noticed that and they sealed the court already so I couldn't make things anymore worse. So then to supplement that I used a hoop that is used for really small kids just for fun that we had bought to gift someone but not used so opened it along with an air ball, so, then I hanged it on the door lock and shot the ball there but I had to use different shooting angle of course because the hoop was at lower height obviously. Surprisingly it made me learn variations in different shooting angles for different heights and the power and posture to be applied. The space in the room was also less so I also had to learn leg movement too, plus, the hoop was unsteady so I had to get the ball through the middle as if it would touch anywhere else it wouldn't get inside and the hoop would move somewhere else. So I also learnt how to shoot a ball with less leg space and in an unsteady hoop. Then one day I got really concern about my younger sister's fitness as well so to make a creative and interesting sports plan and to wake her ambitions up I invented some interesting races for between me and her. The races were really fun and she actually got engaged. Then we decided to do something more creative so I found a hat and took a ball and then I told her to make challenges with the hat and I would shoot the ball. She would give me really tough challenges and they would always rise my ambition keys. I would always relate them to something to know how to get the ball right inside the hat. Once she kept the hat tilted inwards just below her neck and it was really tough to throw the ball there, so, I assumed the hat as the basketball hoop and my sisters forehead as the basketball board square, so, I hit the ball on her forehead with that understanding, so, the ball definitely had to go and it did! Lol, that ball was not really heavy so it didn't hurt that much. In this lock down period I also realised that I had a great actor and mimic spirit in me and I explored apps to further learn singing and improve it. Plus my music teacher was the one who told me that music is a 3 dimensional subject that means that it requires dedication, determination and discipline but now I think it's applicable to all fields.I have also realised that I don't really dance well but I have my own comedy genre of dance that no one would really be capable of imitating. Also, I have been writing poems since the age of 10, so, before the lock down, I found a site to share poems with all poets and everyone, so I uploaded two of my poems there and actually forgot about it. But actually in lock down I checked it and ended up getting some really good comments from poets and people. We have also had school online classes that were also bumping some fun along with some stress cause we had exams as well, but apart from that I really like to learn so school is interesting (not so much without meeting people though) but still if it could add some fun to your life, it's still worth it. But doing classwork and homework both at home is stressful. And ya I don't really know why people were getting bored in the lock down because there are thousands of interesting things to do and just getting yourself scheduled really helps. So I have got kinda everyday scheduled by my own plans so I never really felt bored, instead, I felt interested and took that period as an opportunity. Plus I hate boredom and laziness so I really need to get myself scheduled. Also, my birthday came in the lock down but actually that wasn't so much fun though I could get a new dress from flipkart and a new phone. But my father was busy in his office work and I really wanted some time from him that didn't happen and I didn't want any fake love that I got from video calling the people I don't even usually talk to, that made it worse, plus I wanted to eat cake but couldn't really eat cake at the time I wanted to eat it so I was not feeling good and I ended up crying at the end of the day. Though my mother had done a commendable job for my birthday as she made me a nice long video of wishes of all family members and some of my friends that was really nice and she had done all the video editing. Also, she made chole bhature and pizza for me for lunch and dinner respectively so I really appreciate her efforts. Though I would just be happy if I got to eat a lot of my favourite ice cream 🤣 but that was possibly not available. So I can say that my birthday was neither too bad nor too good. Plus before this my parents just stocked up lots of grocery goods and chips for us. I could actually always keep myself entertained by hobbies, passions, writing, talking, spending time with my family, making and watching my own dreams, daydreaming, etc. I also watched some amazing crafts of movies that have not really been appreciated, they are true, underrated crafts. At last, I think the bad impacts on my life from this lock down were dusting, brooming and mopping activities, too much screen time, too much writing time, too much sitting time, too much thinking time and too much time with books. The good impacts on my life have been the realisations, explorations, too much creativity, too much appliance of brain, some social contacting, some touch with my passions, hobbies and dreams, reflecting some of my past, getting a new dress, exploring phone apps that I really didn't explore earlier, getting a new phone, getting a lovely birthday wishes video, making connection of things with other things, watching some good movies and shows, getting good exam marks, exploring singing apps to help myself with my dreams in music, doing some things I didn't have time for earlier and many other things. And of course I haven't slept well for years so sleeping as well 🤣🤣.

I think community solidarity is both strengthened and weakened as people care about each other more at this time and genuinely pray for other people, also this time we have some time to communicate so we are able to actually get in touch, so it has strengthened in this way and weakened also as people can't use human touch and are avoiding any kind of personal meets and social interaction. Like in these times people are actually getting less helpful as if your cycle tyre chain gets damaged then no one will come to help you as they don't wanna touch it but before this time they all wanted to help and have their hands on fixing it, or, if your RO doesn't work then to get water, you have to wait, instead of borrowing water as no one will let you in their house and it was obviously not like this earlier. It has affected charitable aid definitely as you really have to sanitize everything well before doing the charity, plus at this time people actually need more charity but for the same reason people are not willing to give charity. International cooperation I think has been affected in a good way as countries are helping each other out to fight the challenge but ya it's obviously a bad time for China as everyone is against them.

Jessica

United States of America

Origin:

Residence:

New York City

Female

Museum Educator/ Public History

Working from home

When this first began, I felt only chaos and helplessness, it was a true departure from the rhythms of daily life that in hindsight I had completely taken for granted. I was scared and I am still scared. In the very early phases of staying and working from home I was scared and worried every single day that I would get sick or those I love and care about would get sick. I worried had I unknowingly gotten someone sick if I was carrying the virus? I have never been confronted by death like this before, that it could be a very real possibility if I was not careful. But also watching the bodies come out of the hospitals and brought to the temporary morgues, knowing that this person used to be just like me, walking around living their lives, not ever imagining that death would come so quickly. Knowing that their families were devastated and could not mourn for them or grieve and comfort one another. I cried.
This is also when I started to learn about mindfulness in the present, for the first time in my life I had to teach myself not to think of the future, just get to the next day. How every breath in and out of my lungs was a gift. If anything, this moment has taught me about gratitude and what is truly important.
This has been a time when I have learned to appreciate the smallest gifts that are often neglected in a busy world. Being with my family and finding quite moments to just be still and grateful. I have learned to cultivate activities that had long been forgotten. For the first time in a long time I began to draw again and make art, it is a great way to still the mind and just focus on creating. I started doing yoga, biking and baking on the weekends to break up the monotony of the day and valuing these new hobbies as a way to unplug from constantly being connected to the phone and the computer throughout the workday. I have also found solace in routine by adapting to new work demands and creating structure in my day. This has been challenging to find a way of working remotely in a field that is largely centered on in person interactions but learning to adapt and being proud of that.
At the beginning of the pandemic it was very difficult to find toilet paper and water. The early hoarding was troubling to me, I felt that if people could be responsible and take what they needed this could have been avoided. However, we were able to look to the internet to track down monthly water shipments and the toilet paper situation started to improve.
This has also caused me to reach out to friends and family who I don't speak with on a regular basis and I find myself checking in on them on a weekly if not daily basis just inquiring how they are holding up physically, mentally, to find things to joke and laugh about. But there is also a great feeling of loneliness and isolation even though I am sheltering in place with my family. I have been torn away from my friends and those that I care about and as lucky as we are to have technology to connect, nothing can replace physical closeness and interaction. A simple hug is something that I will no longer take for granted. It is also hard because I want to help those, I care about who also feel isolated. But it has led to more meaningful conversations and being more open with sharing how you are really feeling. We are all living through the same thing and I find there is no shame in expressing feelings of vulnerability. So, in a way, relationships through this have been strengthened.

In many ways I believe that new ties have been forged and strengthened within my community, people realize we all need to work together to stop the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve to relieve the burden on the hospital system. Almost three months into this and I am still touched every single night at 7pm when everyone comes out of their windows and cheers the medical workers who are changing shifts. I find on the news so many people are doing the right thing and they want to help by donating PPE or other resources to not only help our front-line workers but those who have lost their jobs and are suffering economically. I feel like communities are coming together but on a larger scale it seems that everyone is on their own. It seems to me that there is almost no international cooperation to help with distributing medical supplies, test kits or information on how and when this virus started to spread. At a time when the world should be coming together it seems that every nation is pulling further away from one another and in this country, it seems that every state is left to create their own plan and strategy for confinement and eventually reopening. There is no leadership and no sense of unity on a grander scale.

J.S

China

Origin:

Residence:

Japan

Female

Student

Working from home

Today was the second day after Japan announced an extension of nationwide emergency state over COVID-19. I finally watched the Japanese movie Pandemic (2009) that was not quite popular until recently---10 years after its release. To certain extent, fiction becomes reality. People got infected and died from untreatable disease. Doctors faced difficult decisions on which patient to live or to die. Current situation is only sort of under control because COVID-19 was not as deadly as the "BLAME" virus in the movie.
We are not stocking up essentials as they are mostly available at stores with sufficient supply. Though the price of masks and disinfection spray and etc. goes up. Several hundred yen used to be able to buy a box of 50-60 masks, but now only a pack of five. We eat at home for most of the time and sometimes order delivery. Pizza places developed a new way of "no-contact" delivery by leaving the pizza at the door and waiting from faraway to see it is picked up. It is for the best of everyone.

Travis Hindley

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Seal Beach

Male

Tax Accountant

Working as usual

Isolation has taken a toll on all of us, especially our younger and older generations. My great grandpa, at 94, died yesterday alone and isolated despite never being in contact with coronavirus. Apparently, being in isolation drove him into depression as he deteriorated exponentially. He couldn’t do his usual activities or meet his usual friends.... and that’s incredibly saddening for me, since that’s really all he has now. Me and my mother, on the the other hand, are very lucky to continue working every day. She’s able to work from home some days, but aside from that we still go to the office like usual. It’s all very surreal.

My mother, for one, likes to view the pandemic as a positive: i feel the same way. We can use this as an opportunity to grow closer to our families and to each other, and hopefully strengthen our government and global community that much more.

Mark Connolly

Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

London

Male

Teacher

Furloughed

Covid-19 is a dreadful and unnecessary blight on the world, which seems like it might not have caused such devastation if the Chinese government hadn't lied way back in November. It is a harsh reminder that we have forgotten our old and most vulnerable. Whilst it is a nuisance for many others who can't work to pay rent, etc. I have been fortunate with support from my employer and I'm happy I love with someone I love. Many aren't so fortunate. At a more philosophical level, hopefully this crisis can serve as a reminder to us to take death seriously, respect our elders and take care of where our food comes from and who we do business with, etc. I pray we take careful note of this silver lining and rediscover love and respect: For God, others and ourselves.

It has pulled in both directions, revealing the best and worst of Man. More good than bad, at least in The UK and Ireland, but it has revealed the clear and problematic nature of 'post-Christian', nay Anti-Christian governments and organizations.

Kai Yan Chan

Singapore

Origin:

Residence:

Boston, MA

Male

Marketing

Working from home

Monday 16 March 2020
1.30am SGT On board UA1

The past week has been extraordinarily crazy. The coronavirus situation has escalated rapidly, and has reached the US, culminating in my decision to return to Singapore for at least a temporary period. But before that I need to recount the events leading up to the situation in which I find myself today.

Things were still fairly normal at the start of the week. Most people including myself were still going into the office on Monday, even though J allowed V, C, and W to start working from home on Monday, before any official move to work from home. Meetings went on as usual – we met up with external vendors which had by then already transitioned to working from home. At the time, the advice from the company was still limited to regular handwashing.

Then the situation in Europe continued to get worse at a very rapid pace. Italy was placed under a total lockdown and many European countries started to lock down their borders. In a surreal address, Trump announced on Wednesday that he would end all travel between the US and Europe, causing a record breaking collapse in the stock market – the Dow Jones ended 9.99% lower or over 2,000 points on Thursday. The gyrations in the stock market have matched my own vacillating feelings – I foresaw that the situation would worsen very rapidly, and was mentally prepared to deal with it, but I still found it difficult when the time to act finally came.

It was on Wednesday, at 4pm, that a two-week work from home policy was finally instituted, and Thursday was the first day that they would trial a work from home policy for the entire company. It was then that the worries started and I immediately began to strategise. There were only 2 options: to stay or to leave. Staying would have meant that I could keep regular hours, but also meant that I would have to deal with everything on my own, should the situation in the US escalate rapidly. While I had already stockpiled a good amount of food (chiefly black beans and peanuts) I was not confident that I would be able to deal with the psychological effects of a lockdown, such as the loneliness and despair if it was an indefinite lockdown.

Q and I have corresponded extensively over the past 2 or 3 days to decide whether we should stay or to leave. We are very clear about the math behind the situation – since the virus grows exponentially, things can deteriorate very rapidly, and we likely had a very short window to leave Boston if the situation turned bad very quickly. However, leaving also brought with it other serious concerns – chiefly, whether we would be able to retain our jobs. The recession induced by the coronavirus is likely to be short, if we are lucky and if governments are able to get the situation under control and provide strong measures to save the people. But if we are not, this will again evolve into a very serious situation. The job market would be hopeless and all we would be able to hope for would be that the company survives the crisis and liquidity doesn’t dry up, which is J’s greatest fear.

On Thursday and Friday I tried to work but it was all rather futile. I was able to take charge of an urgent request to include negative keywords and continue working on my keywords, but that was about the max of my productivity. I spoke to my roommate and he was similarly distracted by the rapidly deteriorating situation – he made up his mind to leave for New Jersey very quickly, unlike me, who prevaricated for another 24 hours before reaching a final decision, booking my flights and packing most of my things only in the late afternoon on Friday. This was despite V and J both sanctioning my move – I was concerned about productivity and job security. But then I asked myself whether I would like to be in Italy at this time, and since the answer was ‘no’, I knew that I would have to flee at the earliest opportunity.

Therefore, I came to the decision on Friday afternoon that I had to leave. I had already met K and Q for a hotpot on Thursday – this exposed us to risk but we tried to mitigate it by not sharing utensils and ensuring that the soup was constantly boiling. We also drank through Q’s cava, which tasted excellent – a way of celebrating our bonuses and in the knowledge that this may be the final time we do something like that in Boston. We talked incessantly about work – job security is clearly our biggest worry, but I rationalized to Q that our company may still be able to survive because we have a large customer base and because we are online – but there will be a large number of layoffs.

K decided to ride it out in Boston because he was unable to get in touch with his professor to discuss the arrangements for his thesis. In any case, he has L for company and the two of them can still help each other out in case anything happens – unlike Q and I who are alone. Thus, we have to rejoin our families to take away some of the pressure of making these potentially life-and-death situations. I visited K again yesterday to pass him more rice, and as I did so I saw the sun set over the Charles River as I rode the bus and crossed on the Harvard bridge. It seemed a fitting end to my short, one-month sojourn in the US before returning to Singapore yet again.

None of us know how this will turn out. My flights home have still been relatively full, but one should also remember that airlines have cut capacity, especially unprofitable airlines like United. This is, therefore, an illusion of normality. It is surreal to travel amidst the same chirpy inflight announcements and safety videos, but there are a lot more surgical and N95 masks, and even people who wore gloves throughout the entire flight. On board UA1, unlike the previous time I travelled, there are now only Caucasian flight attendants, instead of the many Asians on previous trips. Now, every cough or sneeze arouses suspicion, and thankfully I have an empty middle seat this time around. 这算係不幸中之大幸了。

Now, we are 3½ hours out of Singapore. Finally, I will be home.

Laura Olivarez

United States of America

Origin:

Residence:

Female

Working as usual

This pandemic started right around Spring Break, so I was working extra hours at the daycare with the after-school kids (but due to Spring Break I had them all day. The next week my co-worker went on vacation and they asked if I could help out, and since I had an extra week off from school, I agreed. I was working 6:30 am to 6:30 pm as well as being a wife and mom and a few of my classes still sent assignments. I was exhausted. I have not missed a day of work since we are considered essential. Now that classes are in full swing online, I am only working 2 to 6:30. I still have my school work, my house work, my job, oh and now I'm "teaching" my kids. They are now online twice a week from 7:30 am to 3:15 pm and mom is here to help teach them. They need to know how to edit, create pdf documents, scan homework, print work, and more and mom is there to help. If a device fails us in the middle of a class I have to jump up and figure out how they will get back into class. It has been stressful and tiring. Not to mention I have to get in line before 8 am to try and find toilet paper lol. My kids have only been in the back yard and the house and I feel bad that I can't take them anywhere. We normally at least eat out on the weekends, go to a movie, go shopping, or just a park but now we sit at home. One last stress in my life, worrying everyday if I've been exposed by one of the families at the daycare.

I think it has weakened many people in the community. When you have to get in line just to try and find toilet paper because someone else has a garage full, is crazy. Others have strengthened their sense of community. I for one have bought eggs when I've seen them and taken them to work to give to others that can't find any.

Jonathan

Hong Kong

Origin:

Residence:

Hong Kong

Male

Student

Other

Well, a typical day for me is pretty boring as schools and official exams have been cancelled. It often would consist of going to the last few online lessons for school, playing games and just catching up on movies that I missed out over the past 2 years of IB. I have spoken to quite a few people, especially friends living in other heavily affected countries, to ask about their safety. I've used a lot more social media than before because of the sudden increase in free time due to the exams being cancelled.

I've been looking at the news more often because as an aspiring medical student, I do have to constantly read up on medical news(also in preparation for my upcoming medical interviews). As well as this, having more time meant that I started cooking more often.

As for entertainment activites, I have been catching up on some old movies as well as playing some games with friends. Social distancing has been somewhat boring compared to before as I do not have the opportunity to hang out with friends now.

I think in the beginning, there was quite of xenophobia around people of asian descent, but now that pretty every country is affected by it, it has died down a little but I think it is still happening out there. I mean it think that it has somewhat strengthened international cooperation because every major country is pretty much affected and cooperation is needed for quick development of possible cures. Recently, I think Jack Ma donated a lot of masks and respirators to Italy and hence I think it has strengthed international cooperation.

Danielle P.

America

Origin:

Residence:

Female

Working from home

COVID-19 distancing and social isolation has caused a moderate amount of chaos in my life. As a graduating medical student, I spent the last four years awaiting big celebrations for match day and graduation, which are now both cancelled. It is a little surreal to think that I will likely be sitting in my house up until the beginning of residency, rather than celebrating, learning, and spending time with my classmates before we scatter across the country. Going into the medical field right now is bittersweet. I am so excited to finally start practicing medicine and learning in the real world, but I am also super nervous to start in the midst of a public health crisis. I think this summer will be an even steeper learning curve than usual, as the entire healthcare system is learning on the fly. The pandemic has definitely left a mark on my graduating class. I had also planned on getting married a week after graduation, which is also now postponed. The gravity of all this didn't really hit me until I sent out the "our wedding is postponed" message to friends and family. Apart from these major changes, I am mostly staying at home and trying to distance. My father is a high risk patient so he and my mother have been self isolating for the last few weeks and my sister or I will drop off anything they need, but mostly we only talk on the phone. It is a very weird time to be away from school, finished with basically all of the graduation requirements, but not graduated yet. It almost feels like purgatory?

Maryland has been decently aggressive, instituting social distancing measures fairly early on relative to the local number of cases. That being said, little decisions that seemed like no big deal are now choices with real consequences. For example, ordering food delivery helps keep local restaurants in business, but also puts delivery drivers at risk. I think that community solidarity is strengthened when everyone is informed. I think everyone in the community wants to do the right thing, however, there is so much misinformation out there that I sometimes worry about our ability to truly come together.

Indy Shome

India

Origin:

Residence:

Philadelphia, USA

Male

Educator, Multimedia Designer

Working from home

Growing up in four countries, "culture shock" is something I don't often experience anymore. I seek it out through travel and media to keep my beliefs nimble and mind humble, but in the last few weeks I found myself facing a sort of culture shock that I have only rarely felt in the US since I moved to this country from Asia twelve years ago. At first, as I spoke with friends who like me were teens during SARS in Hong Kong and Singapore, we bemoaned that the individualism and exceptionalism and bravado and disregard for precaution and collective action as a distinctly American shock against our more socially-programmed Asian upbringings. However, after more conversations with my friends still living in Hong Kong or even my friends and family in India, I began to feel the shock I felt was perhaps geographical, but epochal. Across the ocean our conversations revealed that while some differences in cultural programming are undeniable, the unfortunate reality our societies share right now is one where a divided general public has a justifiable lack of trust in the information shared by leaders, who routinely contradict scientists. Collective action is difficult without some collective understanding about what's happening.

It has strengthened community in some ways, but I can't help but fear that it's just pushing people towards the desperate end we've been edging towards. It's probably too early in some ways, I don't see a whole lot of level-headed discussion about the systemic changes we need to undertake to create a stronger world for the future. We have a large class of people working paycheck to paycheck who can't stay home, can't make rent, and don't have health insurance. There's a lot of people suffering, a lot of grabbing and pushing going on, and although there are people doing great philanthropic things, as a society it's really still "too little too late" and acting disaster-to-disaster. I know this is a massive calamity right now, but I don't know if it's giving me any faith in our collective capacity to deal with any of the even larger and more subtle disasters that require even more insight and foresight and preparation.

Victoria Marks

Canada

Origin:

Residence:

Canada

Female

Former school teacher (now unemployed)

Unemployed

I've been in self-isolation for 12 days now. I worry for my dad. He is an emergency doctor (specializing in disaster preparedness) and unfortunately he has never been more in demand. I remember when I realized that COVID was serious business; I had been trying desperately to get in touch with airlines to help my friend get back home -- we were lucky if we could even be put on hold. I called my father, and he answered with a brusque "I'm going to have to call you back," and hung up. He didn't call back until 2 days later, which is entirely unlike him. I realized "Oh my god, I'm on hold with my father." It had never happened before. That was when I realized this was incredibly serious.

I'm OK for food, and supplies, and even though I'm unemployed, I got a nice tax return. I'm fine in terms of living expenses for the next little while, especially since I don't have anything to spend it on -- everything is closed. I live in a nice apartment, and everything is comfortable, and I don't have to entertain anyone else, so I really have a best case scenario considering. I've never been so happy about my decision to not have children.

As I live alone, I'm sad that I don't know when I'll next be able to give someone a hug. I'm not the world's most touchy-feely person, but I'm still a person. I didn't realize how much I used to casually come into contact with my friends, that I was satisfying that human need without even noticing it. The first thing I'm going to do when all this is over is drive to my friend's house (who is severely at risk and immunocompromised) and give them the biggest and longest hug I can imagine. They are suffering worse than I am now. I call them every day.

On the first day of my self-isolation one of my permanent retainers (orthodontic wire glued to my top and bottom teeth) broke off. This happens once every two years or so, and I normally just go and have it glued back on before the end becomes bent and slices up my tongue. I always wondered what I would do about this in the case of an apocalypse, and now I'm finding out. No orthodontist or dentist will treat me until my mouth is sliced up and it counts as an emergency. So far it has been alright. I have to cut my food into tiny pieces and shove it to the rear right-hand side of my mouth. Despite being as careful as I can, I still every now and again bite in the wrong place out of habit, and I feel the retainer bend into a slightly less comfortable position. We'll see what happens next.

I do have a chronic health condition, but I would categorize myself right now as healthy. I got sick in 2017 with the flu and basically never fully recovered. It comes and goes. I was in the middle of trying to sort it out -- I finally found a doctor who would take my symptoms seriously -- but my followup appointment was scheduled for last week, and it was cancelled. They said they would call me back to reschedule, but so far no one has. I understand why.

One weird advantage of being unemployed with lots of time on my hands is that I have a lot of time to focus on my health. I've been able to do all of my physiotherapy, and yoga, and go on long walks (walking far away from other people I see on the streets). I eat sparingly to prevent the need for grocery shopping, and am eating lots of vegetables. No one is buying perishables at the grocery store anymore, so I take advantage of that and buy lots of fruits and vegetables when I can. In terms of my chronic condition, I've really never felt better. Who knew that all I needed to do was devote my entire day to caring for my body?

I have friends and loved ones in Russia and I really worry about them. The government is doing almost nothing to prevent disaster, and my one friend -- who is now sick -- said that the doctors in their COVID clinics don't even have gloves or protective eye gear. She said that their hospitals are closed to everyone except grandmothers and pregnant women. My Russian friends are also not taking COVID seriously. They are all still attending sports practice together, and visiting each other's houses. My friend said that she thinks it won't be worse than the regular flu. I think some of my friends are going to die.

Strengthened. All of these years we have been writing and consuming dystopian fiction, where at the first sign of capitalistic collapse we all attack each other. Instead we are sharing art, generating entertainment for each other, educating ourselves, and putting social pressure on each other to do the best thing for others around us. My biggest fear is that this will abruptly end.

Patricia Eleanor

Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Female

Unemployed

COVID-19 has been a testing time for many people in my community. I have an autoimmune disease that has been flaring up because I cannot get access to food. My depression and anxiety have worsened due to the quarantine and the fact that I am worried about my family constantly. Belfast has been a mess because people have not listened to the distancing rules so it has been spreading rapidly. Many of my older friends have been worried about the fact that lots of people are coming in and out of their community. My sons sent me aid kids, but I do not go out as much or have guests.

I think it has done both. Friends are often looking out for each other and we all want everyone to stay safe. However, there has been a lot of tension because people have stolen goods from other people's houses and many people do not listen to social distancing. We have had to work together because the Conservative government under Boris Johnson has been awful at showing leadership.

Paula Tomaszko

Northern Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Belfast

Female

Software Engineer

Working from home

I've recently bought a house which I've been repairing. The house was in quite an old state, and desperately needed work carried out to bring it to modern safety standards. Just before this pandemic, I managed to get a full rewire, gas conversion, and some plastering done. I had planned to get my full house redecorated, and my windows installed throughout March, but these plans have been put on hold. My installer has been working, despite government advice, just to finish the job as our lockdown came into effect while he had already started working. I've not been allowed to see the house or visit it until he's done over his bosses concerns about the virus and social distancing. I'm afraid I will only have half a house, and will have to continue living at my parents (I dont mind this) until this is all over.

I've been working from home now. I had a week and a half booked off to do repairs on the house, but with all the shops shut....I've only managed to get half of what I need to do the repairs. The working from home for me starts 24/03/20, but my colleagues have been doing it for a week and a half already. The office is on lockdown - it's very strange not being able to go in and talk to friends. Co-workers have been taking mini breakdowns because they're so isolated, or being driven crazy by their kids

I've got Disney Plus, and work, and a LOT of books to keep me busy through the pandemic, but I'm afraid about health other than the virus. Will we all have jaundice by the end of this lockdown? Will we all get rather large because we are only allowed out for an hour a day to either buy food, or exercise

I havent stockpiled anything - I dont regret it, because I wasnt a selfish person who left the vulnerable without food. At the same time, now that I cant get out to the shops, it's a struggle. I cant just pick up a chocolate bar because I feel like it, and we dont know who has the virus, and who doesnt. No one is listening to the social distancing rules - so they are brushing up against you in the line, and basically coughing on you.

The country tried to social distance, and close the schools, and work, but everyone has treated it like a holiday, with parents bringing their families to beaches, and parks, and having parties. Boris Johnson has basically grounded us all now, and we are on a three week lockdown, with a pending review at the end. If he thinks we need more of a lockdown, we will remain in it until we can go out again. I think it was brought in too late.... many people might have it now, and will have passed it onto others. 4 people are dead in NI by it, and there are 178 cases. They are only testing those who are in a critical condition, so those with mild symptoms are going unchecked.....that's the scariest thing. There could be 3,000, or 30,000 walking about with it in NI, and we dont know who does, or who doesnt have it, unless they've been tested.

I dont mind the social isolation/lockdown. I have a lot on to keep me busy at the moment, but the impact of not being able to go out and do whatever you like when you like is startling. If I fancy a new book, I cant just talk to town and pick it up. If I fancy a treat, I cant do it either. The worst of it all.....if I fancy talking to my own Granny, and aunts, face to face, I cant do that either. I cant even walk up the straight and go into her house to talk to her and see how she's doing. It's very upsetting. Not visiting is for her safety though.....I just wish to see her face again

I also dont have a partner, or sentiment for anyone romantically, so at least I'm not struggling in that regard, like my sister is struggling with not visiting her boyfriend

I'm afraid for my family, I'm afraid for myself. I'm 24, and dont want to catch this. I have things to do - countries to visit. The virus is wrecking everyones ability to visit this beautiful world, and to meet new cultures - to learn about animals and plants all over by physically visiting them. The small businesses are losing, and people are scared. I am hopeful that we might lessen the impact of this on our own personal families if we listen to the government rules, and stay at home.

Michael B

United States

Origin:

Residence:

Linthicum, Maryland

Male

History Teacher

Working from home

Learning to teach electronically has been challenging.

Daniel D

Ireland

Origin:

Residence:

Belfast

Male

Teacher

Working from home

The coronavirus has impacted my daily life hugely. I have moved from teaching in-school classes to completely online. The change of work pattern has been a stressful one, teaching 10-12 year olds online using systems they are not comfortable with. Or supplying them with means to chat which is a lot to deal with. Socially, things have pretty much stayed the same besides moving in with family. We have stock piled quite a bit and continue to do so over the upcoming weeks as there seems to be no end to this pandemic. Overall my feelings have ranged from, stressed, anxious, bored and at weekends relaxed. My countries response has not been fantastic, it seemed to have lagged a couple of weeks behind every other countries timeframes before going into isolation/lockdown. Who knows what this will bring in the next few weeks.

I think it has strengthened the average workers community.

Solitary Maple

China

Origin:

Residence:

Wilkes-Barre, PA