Community Conversations: Pandemic Perspectives - Selected Submissions

Community Conversations: Pandemic Perspectives, NJ’s COVID-19 Storytelling Project gathered, documented, and analyzed the personal accounts of more than 580 New Jersey participants during the COVID-19 pandemic.




Mental Health

Sleep Cycle

Participant 170

Troubles spread between bedsheets and coverlets
pain of now cuts my back like a sharpened knife,
news reels turn in my anxious mind.

Masked and unmasked children crowd school hallways.
a single ventilator in a hospital packed with pandemic sufferers,
children with cancer waiting for someone to care for them.

Geese walking their young across busy highways,
sanitizer, toilet paper, sympathy cards disappearing from shelves,
relatives grieving for dead in video calls.

On the other side of the bed my love twists and turns,
we wake before our alarm, before
cats cry for breakfast and daylight

hoping for a seismic shift
or a sign the nightmare has passed
or truly a nightmare, never occurred.

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Participant 293 - See Full Story




Social & Economic Factors

March 2020 Journal

Participant 204

3:10pm Emergency Meeting-Warren County, NJ

The staff is informed that a virus known as COVID 19 is rapidly spreading and we must be prepared to close at a moment’s notice. We are instructed to work with our grade level teams to plan and compile two weeks worth of work for students to complete at home in the event that we close. Alarm spreads throughout the room. Brows furrow. Hands shoot up to voice questions and express concerns.

I sit smugly and think to myself, “This is a lot of extra work for nothing. They will NEVER shut down schools. How will parents go to work? How will students learn? How will students socialize? This will NEVER happen.”

Friday, March 13, 2020

I was very wrong.... so, so, very, very wrong! An emergency day is called for students. Teachers and staff are to report to their respective buildings and plan for a two week closure. We work frantically like a hive of honeybees and prepare approximately two weeks of work for students to complete from home. For elementary teachers, that means planning, reading, writing, math, science and social studies activities. Lesson plans are haphazardly written, hundreds of copies are made, websites are updated, online subscriptions are purchased, and emotions run VERY high.

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Participant 186 - See Full Story

Participants 383-404 - See Full Story




Clinical Care & Healthcare

Participant 214

As a Registered Nurse, I have served in every way possible during this pandemic from caring for COVID-19 patients to getting sick with the virus myself/witnessing my other frontline co-workers get sick, from participating in Johnson & Johnson’s first ever virtual NurseHack4Health: COVID-19 Virtual Hackathon, co-sponsored by SONSIEL, Microsoft, and dev up, which entailed solving COVID-19 health challenges with technological solutions, to working at a COVID-19 testing site, from doing rounds for my hospital’s Infection Prevention department to being the team lead for my department in helping create my hospital’s COVID-19 Recovery Program, and becoming a member of my hospital’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.

We can heal our state by thinking globally and acting locally. It is important to be mindful of the fact that we are all interconnected and that our actions not only affect ourselves but also others. We also need to follow the advice of infectious disease experts and medical professionals and only share information from credible sources.

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Participant 482 - See Full Story

Participant 584 - See Full Story





Participant 360 - See Full Story

Participant 341 - See Full Story

Participant 314

I definitely have less of a social life now. I haven’t been going out nearly as much as I used to, not even to get groceries sometimes. Ever since March, I have been mainly ordering the things I need online so I have less contact with people. My family lives in Georgia, and because of the pandemic and the travel restrictions that are now in place, it doesn’t make sense to visit them, in a time like this. I haven’t seen them since December 2019. I miss them a lot, and it is really hard not seeing them. Now, I couldn’t imagine doing nearly as many things that were normal before, like shaking hands, sharing food or a drink with someone. It all seems taboo now, and I couldn’t see it going back to normal anytime soon.

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Perceptions of Residents & Societal Views/Responses

Participant 36 - See Full Story

Participant 81 - See Full Story

Surviving Lockdown And How Catholic School Prepared Me For The Pandemic!

Participant 522

It’s been a long haul and had I known it would last this long, I would have paid for a full Zoom account to speak endlessly with friends. I have tried to make lockdown work, I found ways to stay connected and keep the rules. I know of some people who contracted Covid19, but luckily I don’t personally know of anyone who died. I’m concerned that New Jersey’s numbers are rising, I wonder when this will really end and what are lives will look like in the future. I will continue to follow the rules and live life one step at a time. I hope to see information published about coping with a return to new normal. I’d like to see programs offered through our local libraries that help people process whatever trauma they have experienced, from just the lockdown to surviving Covid19 to losing loved ones. This may take a long time and it will hit people differently. We need people who will listen and without judging. Losses big or small need to be acknowledged. We need to do this together.

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Those Left Out of the Virus Response

Participants 74-76 - See Full Story

Written Interview

Participant 232

Do you think that all communities have been treated equally during COVID? Were there populations who were favored over others?

No I do not feel they have. Communities with African Americans and others who are less fortunate need more help.

Who do you think was left out of NJ’s emergency COVID response? Why were they left out?

Communities in need are always last to get what they need and get what’s left.

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Participant 51 - See Full Story