#politics | HPR Coronavirus Coverage: COVID-19 Stories from Across the United States

Policies in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus have left streets across the United States empty.

Note: These responses have been contributed by the public and reflect the opinions only of those who contributed. None of these responses reflect the opinions of the Harvard Political Review. If you would like to share your own stories about how you are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, we encourage you to do so by going to tinyurl.com/hprcoronavirus


Griffin Tau, Fulbright Scholar, Glenwood, Md.

How has your life been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? 

Days ago, I was living a dream in the Czech Republic with the US Fulbright Program. In the first days of March, everyone seemed unconcerned. Many of my peers headed to Northern Italy for a faculty ski trip — an adventure I skipped on the chance it might interfere with plans to attend a wedding. That decision saved me from a mandatory quarantine. Needless to say, the wedding was rescheduled. After spring break was chaos. In the frame of a week, the Czech Republic went from normal operations to DEFCON 1. Less than 48 hours elapsed between an urgent memo from the State Department and wheels-up on my flight home. No time for goodbyes. Just before takeoff, I asked a friend if we were out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Anything additional thoughts you want to share?

At this point, I can only be certain that anything might happen, and quickly.


Jamie Jefferies, Former Carpenter, Des Moines, Iowa

How has your life been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? 

The Des Moines Area Community College, like many other educational institutions, has closed and begun doing online classes only. Many other places have also closed as most people already know. Every Walmart, Target, and store in my area is completely out of toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels. The mass panic caused by COVID-19 is absolutely ridiculous. Many people in my area are unable to get necessary things, like toilet paper, for their children and family. I have worked as a carpenter at the same company for four years, and I was laid off from my job because my boss was so scared about the virus that he only wants five people working there now. All of the data that is currently open to the public shows that the virus is not dangerous to most people yet; [it’s] mainly older people with underlying health conditions. Even though they are at the most risk, most people are not compassionate enough to allow them to get the things they need to help combat the virus. It is a very sad time for our country when people don’t care about others’ safety, and instead only look out for themselves.


Madeline Morrow, High School Student and Restaurant Employee, Richmond Hill, Ga.

How has your life been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? 

There’s been no school for about a week now, but my job still requires me to leave the house and put myself (and others) at risk. Especially in the food service industry, there is such a high risk of viral contamination, which is why hygiene is always the top priority, especially when serving customers. Thankfully, my workplace has instituted a social distancing protocol that limits the amount of people allowed in the restaurant. We have not closed down yet, but eventually, we may have to. I’m not only balancing a job right now: All of my high school classes have moved online. As an AP student, this period is extremely stressful due to the suspension of AP exams at this time. AP students work the entire school year towards the exam that takes place at the end, enabling one to earn college credit for an introductory level class. The suspension and subsequent postponement of these exams have left many high school juniors, like myself, in the dust. We’ve worked so hard all year, but now we might not even get college credit for the class? Granted, most universities will take the global pandemic into consideration, but there is still the anxiety that college admissions proceedings will be altered or delayed. Many state schools in Georgia are already announcing new lenient policies on admissions criteria for next year due to the pandemic and school closures, but there is still the underlying fear that, as President Trump stated, this pandemic could very well go into the summer months of July and August.

Over the past year, I’ve also become much more involved in politics and even considered a career in this field, but as campaigns are being put on hold, I am wondering what is going to happen now with the 2020 race. I recently applied to volunteer for Lisa Ring, a local candidate for Congress, but every event is currently postponed with no word of when we will hit the ground running again. The Georgia presidential primary was scheduled to be this Tuesday, but it was rescheduled for May due to the pandemic. This pandemic is beginning to allow voter suppression to take hold, and it’s truly terrifying. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Ga., and many other state governors are exercising their emergency powers to cancel or postpone state election procedures. What will this mean going forward? Will the general election not have an accurate count? Amidst rumors of Trump threatening to delay the November election, will there even be a fair election? All the governors that have cancelled or moved a primary election this month should be ashamed of themselves for not instead using a more plausible solution, such as voting by mail, which the state of Oregon implemented for its presidential primary. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a substantial impact on my life and will continue to in the coming months. As I write this while social distancing in my home (and also preparing to go to work in a few hours), I urge all Americans not to allow our democracy to be one of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.


Christi Brock, Prosecutor and Mother, New Castle, Ind.

How has your life been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? 

My son just commented on the irony of receiving the census in the mail during a time of uncertainty and pandemic outbreak. However, that stark contradiction kind of highlights the strangeness of the last few days. During the last week and a half, my husband and I have gone from being newly adjusted empty-nesters to having four adults under the same roof again. We watched in disbelief as our kids packed up their dorm rooms and flew home. I started cooking like it was a holiday — it was one of the few ways I could think to console them after saying goodbye to friends and classes and cutting their semesters short. They have handled all the change with such grace — no millennial jokes to be made here. They schedule their days, attend virtual classes, help around the house, support each other — all without resentment. 

Then stores started running low on… everything. (Well, everything except for sweet potatoes. Evidently, Henry County residents aren’t fans of sweet potatoes. Who knew?) I naively thought that this was as drastic as measures would get, but then events were cancelled and restaurants closed. The nation’s leading automotive manufacturers closed, leading to a shut down of the foundry where my husband works. Deep breath. 

The courts remain open. Our county has been found to be in a state of emergency and has requested emergency relief. The Indiana Supreme Court has granted several counties, including ours, the ability to implement measures that allow the courts to ensure the orderly and fair administration of justice during this emergency. So the number of people allowed in courtrooms is limited, but jury trials still continue, and individuals are allowed to appear by video and phone. The prosecution office in which I work hasn’t seen an uptick in crime as a result of the virus, and I hope that holds true. I try to maintain optimism regarding humanity, but in light of increased gun sales and the nature of my work, it’s a constant process of affirmation. But, for the most part, everyone I’ve seen at work and in stores, at a distance of at least six feet, has been very caring and thoughtful. Let’s just hope that a few do not ruin it for the whole. 

Finally, our extended family lives in our hometown with us. Our parents are doing a good job of respecting social distancing even with the temptation of grandkids at home and down the road. We lovingly tease them about their Boomer nature. They have a hard time staying at home and refuse to acknowledge graduating to the at-risk category (“elderly” is not a term to drop jokingly). But we love them, and we want them to stay healthy, and we are very willing to help them with errands to keep them safe so that none of these sacrifices are in vain. 

In spite of it all, we maintain a healthy sense of humor. We enjoy our time together, and stay in touch with friends and family via technology. We play games, eat dinner together, get outside for walks and runs, and we are respectful and forgiving of each other. And, sometime this week, we will pick up our new family member — a golden retriever puppy who we have been waiting for since February! 


Suveer Ganta, High School Student, Newark, Del.

How has your life been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? 

Delaware currently has a stay at home order in place until May 15. I cannot leave the house unless it is for groceries, the doctor, or exercise. This is honestly such a crazy moment in time. My school, and most high schools, are doing online classes which are honestly just really weird. All the plans I had for the next month have gone down the drain. I was looking forward to so many things. However, I feel really bad for the seniors at my school who may not even have a real graduation. At the same time, so many people across the world are suffering, and the facts that the United States cannot keep up with testing and so many people can not afford testing piss me off.

Anything additional thoughts you want to share?

Please social distance. Please donate to organizations providing for low income families.


Quinton Bateman, Mentor, Ohio

How has your life been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic? 

It has impacted my life in many ways from socially to economically. There has been a massive change in attitude with consumer spending and fear of the coronavirus spreading that has driven down inbound calls for work drastically. I have had to be more innovative with online marketing tactics to keep work moving. My social life consists of going out on weekends and going to the gym everyday. With current circumstances, neither is possible, so there’s a ton of free time to fill. Although things are difficult now, there have been positives that have come in dark times. I have spent more time with family and reading books than I have in a very long time.


Image Source: Wikimedia/Martin Kopta

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