Dylan Hollingsworth


Behind Masks and Glass: The Faces of Dallas Under Quarantine

A look at how the pandemic impacted people in Dallas, as the coronavirus swept through the country with unprecedented speed, and what they did to survive.

ronald skufcaDr. Ronald Skufca

Family Medicine Physician

East Dallas, April 5

“The thing we didn’t anticipate was that there would be this huge shortage of personal protective equipment. It’s hitting the medical community extremely hard because we’re asked to reuse PPE that, normally, you change it with every patient because you don’t want cross contamination. We ran out of PPE last week, so I had to close. We have banners outside that say ‘For Appointments Call This Number.’ We have staff on the inside of the building, but we don’t let anybody inside. It’s been devastating.

“Normally, we’re seeing 200 a day here and we’re open seven days a week. On Monday, we saw a little over 100, and by Friday, we were down to about 35 patients or even less. When we met on Monday morning, we had no more PPE that we could use safely, and I closed the clinic at that point. Which means, all these patients—we have 35,000 registered patients in this clinic—all those people are either calling us and we’re doing telephone visits, or they’re going to the emergency room. I’ve been in practice for 43 years in the same location. And we see lower socioeconomic patients for the most part, with Medicare and Medicaid. We have quite a few patients who can’t read or write or speak English.

“The reason that this is as bad as it is, is because the stockpiles of emergency materials such as PPEs were depleted with the last crisis, the H1N1 crisis that we had back in ’09, and they were never replaced. I think a bigger reason is, how in the world did we ever get to the point where 40 percent of our medicines and nearly 100 percent of PPE is made in China? How did we get to this point that we’re so driven by how much profit we can make that we give things of this importance to China? And yet it has happened, and something needs to be done. And I hope that this will serve as a gigantic lesson to never let this happen again.”

Ann romine with childrenAnn Romine

Mother of three with one graduating senior

Oak Cliff, March 23

“Last week was spring break, and I think we had a pretty good one. It feels kind of like we’re shut in for a winter storm that never happened. But we’re very early into it. Just a minute ago, my husband called and he’s at work getting his computer and stuff to bring home, and he said he’ll probably be there for a month. And when he said that, it hit me. That’s a long time for all of us to be here.

“I’m a little bit heartsick for these senior kids. There’s a lot of things that can’t be done in the fall or rescheduled. Sam has been in this choir for nine years, since he was in fourth grade. The final concert of the year is late April, and they do a senior send-off and they get recognition. And they just canceled it this morning. So, you know, that’s something he won’t get back. And I know, in the scheme of things, all of that is nothing when people are getting sick, people are losing jobs, the economy is going to tank. But it still breaks my heart for him. He was supposed to go to London with his church choir the first of June. I’m sure that won’t happen. And he’s also even thinking that now maybe he won’t be going away to school in the fall. Maybe they won’t resume classes like that. I think he’s taking it pretty well, but he doesn’t really know what he’s missing. God, a high school graduation, you know? I won’t get to watch him walk across the stage probably.

“We’re all in the exact same boat regardless of where we live or what we do. So I think there’s a little bit of a bonding experience happening, where people are taking care of each other and checking in on each other. But it is just a very surreal state. You know, it just feels odd. For me, personally, it has made me realize how much of a consumer I am and how easy it is just to run to Target to get one thing and how odd it is not to be able to do that.”

denise benavidesDenise Benavides

Mother, small-business owner, immigration rights activist

oak cliff, april 7

“I am an immigration rights activist. I have a small foundation, and through my foundation we help families who are undocumented. Before all this happened, we would take them boxes of produce, perishable foods, diapers, wipes, whatever they needed. We would help them with their asylum case and finding help from lawyers. I have an issue with a family now where the landlord is trying to kick them out. The landlord says, ‘Well, you have no rights because you have no papers.’ Of course, he said it in a harsher way.

“But these families are terrified because, you know, they have domestic jobs that they have lost and they can’t get unemployment or food benefits like SNAP. If they get sick, they’re scared to go to the doctor because it’s been known for ICE to go to hospitals. Keep in mind that a lot of these people are now essential workers, like farmworkers, domestic workers. They took the job that, to be honest, none of us want to do. Nobody wants to be out in the field in the heat, picking fruits and vegetables. So they’re considered essential right now, but they’re still being used in the sense that they don’t get paid the wages they should get paid. They don’t have PPE. People don’t value them the same even though right now they’re pretty much feeding us and helping us get through.

“You know, as Americans, we’re very blessed to not ever have had to become a refugee, thank God. But just because we live in a country where we have quote-unquote democracy, something like this can destabilize any country. And why? Because it’s hitting our economy. It’s hitting a lot of people’s pockets hard. And what could happen if it hits us hard enough to where our economy can possibly crash harder? We could end up like those families seeking refuge somewhere. People need to understand this is how it starts. What if it gets to a point to where we have to flee to Canada or that we have to grab our kids and flee to Mexico for whatever reason? We are starting to see that something like this could happen to any of us.

“And this is why, in times like this, we need to be more sympathetic and understand that this is why families flee their country. And in their country, it’s even worse because they’re not only fleeing not having jobs, they’re fleeing violence. They see violence all the time. So as a mother, I hope whoever reads this puts themselves in that place where they’re like, ‘Oh, my God, what if that was me?’ Like, how would they feel? I just hope that more people now understand that anybody can become a refugee because Mother Nature is not playing. Next time might be worse.”

Rev. Dr. michael w watersThe Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters

Senior pastor at Abundant Life A.M.E. Church

south dallas, march 22

“We already know we are one of the nation’s leaders in childhood poverty. We already know, according to the United Way, that half of our residents can’t afford their basic needs. These are things we’ve already known. In terms of big cities, we are the most uninsured in America. We are in a state that rejected the Medicaid expansion that would have been given by President Obama at the time to Texas. So we have low-wage workers who don’t have that additional support needed for their healthcare. So all these things are realities that we had in the city of Dallas before the virus hit.

“Now that the virus is coming, we already know that black and brown people will be overrepresented in the population affected by the virus. That’s a very unfortunate thing to say, but it’s true. Ask yourself: how many hospitals are south of I-30 in Dallas versus north of I-30? Persons within our community don’t necessarily have additional dollars available. Most Americans don’t have $400 in emergency funds hidden away. This truly is an emergency, but all the more for our community. It’s often the case in tragedy that we see our humanity and the humanity of others a little more clearly and rally together. I think that’s happened in some places, and I won’t deny that. But to suggest that this virus will have the same impact on every community, that is just not the case.

“It’s not original to me, but the phrase that has meant the most to me, and that I saw someone post, was this statement: ‘Today, love looks like an empty building.’ They were talking about the church. And it resonated with me because the scripture that I have shared most frequently over the last two weeks is really the penultimate commandment, that we’re to love the lord our God with all of our hearts, our souls, all our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. And on these two commandments hang or rest all the laws of the prophets. It is the foundation for everything.

“So how do people know that we love them and care for them in this harrowing hour? The way they know we love and care for them is that we say, ‘Your safety, your security, your health is so important that I will willingly stay at home as much as I can. I will keep my distance from you to the best of my ability. Because my greatest hope is that you live and thrive, and I don’t want to be a hindrance to you.’ So until we are well in the clear concerning the virus’s impact, I will not gather our congregation. The harm it could create is immeasurable.”

edward john cernosekEdward John Cernosek

ICU nurse

garland, march 23

“I take care of critically ill patients. Human nature dictates that when you have symptoms that are the same as what the CDC has been saying—like fever, cough, sore throat—right now that would cause anybody to be concerned for their health. And people who don’t have a primary care provider are more inclined to visit a hospital. So it’s really affected and impacted the healthcare community by increasing the workload across the board. The more people that come in through the emergency room, the more there will be people admitted throughout the hospital. People who come in with the COVID-19-type symptoms are sometimes ruled out for COVID-19 but may have undiagnosed, underlying conditions that they did not know about, and they’re then diagnosed with these other conditions. They may be hospitalized for those issues. Now that’s an increase of patient population, and it’s going to create a larger workload on top of presumptive and confirmed cases of the virus.

“It’s very serious, and we’re now seeing the effects. I mean, this spread worldwide in no time. And a lot of us in the healthcare industry are calling this our generation’s World War II. This is a battle being fought, not with guns but with containment medicine. We are treating an increase in paranoia and/or presumptive cases and/or positive-tested cases on top of an already overwhelming population of people who are obese, unhealthy, noncompliant with their medications. That’s the American population.

“A lot of people state that they want free healthcare, but healthcare starts from birth. Take care of yourself, eat right, exercise. Americans want to wait until it’s too late and go in for an instant fix. People want to wait until the last minute to ask us to fix their diabetes. And then want to sue us because we had to chop off their foot because they have diabetic neuropathy but didn’t want to take their insulin or their blood pressure medicine.

“If people were more proactive before illnesses like this came—not to say that would prevent people with COVID-19 from dying, but it certainly may help with a whole lot of other issues. If we weren’t having to treat five cases of people who are noncompliant with their medicines, that would free up more resources to take care of issues like COVID-19. One of my co-workers and I were talking the other day that this could be the catalyst for the change in how many people do things and lead to change in government policy that people want or need. But are people really ready for that change? Because it would make lazy, unhealthy people have to get up and do something.”

lee jamisonLee Jamison

Founder of Awwdoptable

oak cliff, march 23

“There started being talk on social media about concern that people would start dumping their pets at shelters out of fear that the virus was zoonotic, or transmittable from species to species. And then that there would be slowdowns on adoptions and people willing to foster, and so that was kind of a panic that came up. But it’s ended up being 100 percent the opposite.

“People are at home. And people who have been maybe thinking about adding a pet to their family have been realizing they have all this time and will be home to spend those first few weeks with a pet, potty training them and all that. People are also much more willing to foster now. We had 15 animal adoptions this weekend alone, and that is as many as we do on National Adoption Weekend. That is huge. I mean, that’s really large for even a good-size rescue.We’re nonprofit. We’re not the size of the SPCA of Texas, but we’re pretty good size. We do about 400 adoptions a year.

“I got kind of burnt out this week, and I had not eaten all day. I went to pick up some soup, and I brought it home, and right then somebody called me and said, ‘I’ve got this mama cat and baby kittens. Can you help? I don’t know what to do.’ So I went to get that mama cat and baby kittens and hadn’t even eaten yet, and I left my soup on the counter. When I came home, my dog had eaten it all. And I don’t think I’ve ever cried that hard in my life. I’ve had family members die, and I haven’t cried that hard. Because it was the one thing I was going to do for myself. You know, it was the one thing that I had assured myself: it’s OK. You’re going to finally eat and you’re going to have a luxurious moment with this delicious soup. And I ugly-cried and I sat on the ground, and my dog who had done it came over and tried to apologize.”

charla moxomCharla Moxom

Medical researcher and pregnant mother, due to deliver in a week

bedford, march 23

“I assumed that it was gonna spread. I mean, people are constantly traveling. I definitely didn’t expect it to be like a movie, though, where people are hoarding from the grocery stores and attacking each other. Also, I work at a hospital, and so it was a little bit creepy, seeing things start to change there. Seeing tents outside the ER to screen people and people walking around in masks. I knew that we were getting low on masks. That’s when I first noticed something weird was happening. Then last Tuesday they told us to go home unless you were doing COVID research. They’ve canceled all elective and clinical visits until May because they are anticipating a surge in COVID patients over the next month.

“I’m pregnant, so we’re going to be having a baby, like, within the next seven to 10 days. They don’t really have a lot of research done yet. The only thing that is known is that whenever you’re pregnant, you have a weakened immune system. So it’s not that I’m necessarily at higher risk, but it seems like it would be easier for me to catch. And due to the fact that we’re approaching possibly the peak of it here while I would be delivering, that could change the normal regulations at the hospital. Right now, you can only have one visitor, which would be the dad. And even when we get home, I’m not going to have any family be able to come over unless they’ve been quarantined for two weeks.

“The major private hospital districts in New York right now are not even allowing the father or the significant other to be present at birth. And so that stresses me out for multiple reasons. I think even a normal person understands that being upsetting. And then, I have a 7-year-old daughter. I was single, kind of, whenever I had her, and although it was a wonderful, amazing time, I had kind of always hoped to have the traditional birth experience—what you think about growing up and having a baby and having your husband there and feeling that love and support that a woman should feel at that time. And I’m not sure now if that will happen. But I also know I’m not the only woman something like this is happening to.

“I’ve seen a lot of the compassion that comes out of people, and then there are the people who are the opposite, who don’t understand that their rights have been taken away to protect others. My husband has asthma and has been hospitalized throughout his life for it. If he were to get this, it would not go well. And he’s essential staff at the hospital and is there seven days a week right now. And so it’s hard to see people who don’t care when I’m starting to see how much this could affect so many of us.”

laura fergusonLaura Ferguson

Grocery store worker

East Dallas, March 27

“I help sell vitamins and supplements and body care items. We started seeing great increases in business and requests for immune-building supplements and things that people were taking to try and keep themselves healthy. And this was before buying restrictions were put on things like they are now. So people were coming in and buying mass quantities of things. I’d say this started on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, and by Friday we had one of the busiest days I think that the grocery store industry has probably ever seen in one day, due to the panic. We looked up and the shelves were being cleared out faster than they could be stocked and kept clean, you know?

“I work with people that moved here after Katrina. I work with all kinds of people who have been through natural disasters before, and they said that this is unlike anything that they’ve ever been through. But most of the people that I work with were staying calm and collected. And it’s frightening, honestly, walking into work every day, just knowing that one person could walk in that could already be infected. You’d be scheduled for an eight-hour shift, and some days you’d look up and you had been there 12 hours and you didn’t even realize it because of how busy you were. People who have never taken vitamins in their life are all of a sudden needing vitamin C, vitamin D, elderberry, cough drops, thermometers, rubbing alcohol. Hand sanitizer is gone, and things to make hand sanitizer are gone, too.

“I had a retired firefighter the other day that nearly brought me to tears because he said, ‘You guys really are on the front lines,’ and he thanked me. And I started crying after he walked away because I can’t imagine the kind of sacrifices that people like him have gone through. And for him to come in and say thank you to us? Yeah, that’s beautiful.”

shirley mathisShirley Mathis


richardson, march 24

“I really didn’t think that it would make it here, but it’s spread pretty quick. And when it started hitting other countries before it got here, then I thought that maybe there’s a chance.

“Once the World Health Organization declared this a pandemic, I think that everybody should have stood up and taken a good look at what’s going on. Some people feel invincible until it gets close to home, but not when you’re my age. I’m 76 years old, so I don’t feel invincible. That makes a difference. I mean, young people, I can see that. But when you get to be my age, you know life is very fragile.

“I haven’t had any trouble getting the things that I needed from the grocery stores or anything like that. I’m a widow and I live alone, so I don’t have a lot of needs. But I am very active in my church, and now we’re streaming church on Facebook and YouTube, and for me that’s really different. Because at church we’re used to hugging each other and greeting each other. And I miss that human contact, you know?

“So we don’t know how long this is going to be in effect, where we have to stay in, but I’m not fearful. I’m trying to stay encouraged and trying to keep my faith up. But people or communities that are already disenfranchised, it’s gonna hit them harder. Our community was affected really badly by the tornado back in October. And my whole neighborhood was devastated. Brick flew off the front of my house. My fence was down, and my neighbor’s chimney tops were in my backyard, on my patio. So, you know, we’re still trying to recover from that.

“Maybe that’s why I’m not so worried about what’s going on right now with COVID-19. It’s already been a rough couple of months. I just hope that this will help us come together as a country. We seem to be so divided now. I hope that this will help us start seeing each other differently and come together as a country. It just seems like we took a step back. You know, there’s always going to be racism. And I’m just being frank and honest, but when Trump became president, I started to see things that I saw back in the ’60s. So that’s been really hard for me because I thought we were making some progress. And then you start seeing things happening and you say, ‘Oh, God, we’re going back in time.’ I’ve lived through a lot, and I’ve seen us making progress, but it seems like we’re going backward now. And I hate to see that happen to us as a country, to us as a people. But I’m always hopeful. Hopefully it will be what brings us together and helps us to see each other as human beings rather than black, white, Chinese, Hispanic, or whatever. We’re just all human beings.”

nicole newtonNicole Newton

12-step recovery member

Mesquite, March 23

“I’m a member of a large 12-step recovery group and could be called an old-timer there. I’ve been sober for 10 years. The newcomers say we have to keep meetings open no matter what, and their intentions are good, of course. But some of us want to close it down and do online meetings. And in our fellowship, your vote counts, no matter if you’ve been here one day or 20 years. Everyone is an equal. Last night, the mandate came out to shelter in place. There’s a stipulation in the county mandate that says there’s a list of essential services that don’t have to comply with the order. One of the things mentioned is substance abuse facilities or something to that effect. The argument today between our young and old members is do or don’t we qualify for that. We all want to do the right thing; we just disagree on what that is.

“I don’t think the fellowship of any 12-step program has ever had to deal with this before. I’m 37, and I’ve never even heard the words ‘shelter in place’ before. So this is all brand-new territory. But my concern is that along with the new people who desperately need recovery, I’ve got my 70-year-old mother living in my home. I think for me, there’s just a lot of confusion in my spirit about what is the right thing to do. There’s a lot of moving parts, and there’s no right answer at this point, at least not one I have found.

“The upside of all this, though, for me is that we get the opportunity, outside of the program, to show what we’ve learned and not participate in the hysteria and panic. There are things we have learned in the program about acceptance and love and caring for others, and I think we can sometimes be the voice of reason. We can tell others it’s going to be OK. People who have struggled with the disease of addiction can be very resourceful, and we know how to adapt to hard times. And when we get on the other side of our active addiction and become people in recovery, we take those skills and can use them for good. I mean, some of us are used to being isolated. That was kind of our favorite thing to do at one point in time in our lives. Whether it was in a treatment center, jail, or a prison, being locked down for a matter of months is nothing new to some of us. We’ve been through that and we know that it’s not going to kill us. So we’ll get through it, and hopefully we can help others get through it, too.”

bettye davisBettye Davis

Retiree with breast cancer

garland, march 26

“I first heard about this when it started to spread. Some people say it’s been here for a while but that the government didn’t tell us at first. But I guess I’ve been worried about it for about two weeks. I heard it could spread strictly through contact, and then all of a sudden it started being airborne. So I’ve heard different stories on it. One of the things that I’ve heard is that this can potentially affect people who have either had medical problems or are a little bit older. And I’ve got breast cancer, so I guess that kind of concerns me. And I do have a pacemaker, but I called my heart doctor and they said it wouldn’t affect the pacemaker at all if I do happen to get it.

“I’m not on chemo right now; they stopped it for a while. I’m supposed to go in soon for a scan to see how far my cancer has spread, and they said as long as I don’t have a fever or anything, they’ll go ahead and do the scan. I know I’m more susceptible to it since I do have all these health problems, so I’ve got to be real careful. I kind of worry about it, but like they say, it’s gonna be what it is. I grew up thinking that if it happens, it happens.

“It doesn’t bother me staying home like I thought it would. I’ve just been cleaning up and throwing away junk, stuff that I should have done a long time ago. And I’ve really been doing not much of nothing, to be honest. The only time I watch TV is at night. I don’t watch all those soap operas and stuff. I miss going to church every Sunday. I’ve been going there since ’67 or ’68. I sure do miss it. But before, I would sometimes not be able to sit through a whole sermon because the pews aren’t that comfortable and I’ve got scoliosis real bad. Now I miss it, but I guess you take things for granted.

“When I found out I had cancer, I probably started doing things after that I wasn’t doing before. When I was younger, I’d go dancing every chance I got. In grade school, I square-danced all the time, and it was real popular back then. I’ve just always liked dancing. Now all I really do is country dancing, to be honest with you. But I love to dance, and I’ve missed that. And hopefully, maybe I can get back to it after all this. Somebody was telling me the other day about a club here in Dallas where older people my age can go to. And hopefully I’ll be able to try that place. I’m ready for that.”

rosario vinkRosario Vink

Flight attendant

frisco, march 27

“The job is seniority-based, and senior flight attendants take priority as far as bidding for trips. If you’re junior, that means that you’re at the bottom of the list, which means less opportunity for flights and for hours. And where I am now, I just cannot afford my apartment anymore because I’m still pretty junior. I’ve only been flying for seven years, and I still live kind of paycheck to paycheck. So I’ve had to pack up my whole apartment, put everything in storage, and am about to join my husband in Holland.

“I still don’t have any idea of what’s going to really happen with my job or how long I’ll have it. We don’t get paid unless we fly. Actually, our pay only begins when the plane door closes and the brake is released. That’s when the clock starts ticking for us. And that’s the way it’s been.

“I think it’s going to take a really long time for the airlines to recover. Because I think it’s something like 40 or 50 percent of the company’s profit comes from tourism. And I just think that the industry is going to suffer tremendously. I think that people are going to be trying to recover financially for a long time. And it’s not going to be like, we’re done with corona and now everybody’s going to go on vacation. It’s going to take a long time for people to build their financial status back up.

“I’ve also heard companies are trying to limit the amount of flying for all the businesspeople and all the executives that are always on the road, and do more video conferencing. I can just tell by my flights and the type of people that fly and where they’re going that it’s going to take a really long time. I don’t even think six months. I think the reason they’re offering up to 12 months’ leave is because the company knows it’s going to take even longer than that for the industry to recover.”

vanessa ruizVanessa Ruiz

Small-business owner and mother of three

Dallas Farmers Market, March 23

“It’s a hard spot. You know, do I keep trying to stay open at work or do I shut down and home-school the kids with no income? Seems like it’s a no-win situation. This wasn’t something we could prepare or plan for. My dad started our family business 45 years ago, and I started mine going on 12 years ago. It’s called El Mero Mero Tamalero. We specialize in Mexican food and our main dish is tamales. We’re located in the Dallas Farmers Market, and we had been doing great up until this happened a week ago. When you have a small business, family-owned and -operated, it’s very difficult to have employees. It hurts us right now that we can’t have them come in, because we’re not even making enough to pay them.

“As far as school, online school, who will help them when they get stuck? Who will lead my youngest son in the right direction? You know, I’m fully aware of his learning disability, but I’m definitely not suited or educated enough in the sense of being able to teach him. The teachers are trained and educated and have direction for him and can handle keeping him structured and on task. Keeping him in a structured environment is going to be extremely hard for me. Along with his learning disabilities, he also takes ADHD medicine, which we don’t give him on the weekend. It helps him focus during school. Now I’m wondering, do I give him the ADHD medication at home to help continue with that structure? Or do I give him a break? It’s just really tough right now as a parent trying to decide what is the right way to do this.

“There’s pros and cons to this. I think the biggest, greatest thing that I am grateful for is just getting to know my children more than I thought I knew them. Spending time on the porch, playing board games, or just sitting and talking to them. I think we’re getting to know each other better. And I think as bad as this pandemic is, it’s great that we’re all actually slowing down and having that family time that had diminished. It’s a fast-paced world, and we’re actually being forced to slow down.

“I have three boys, so the house is already difficult to keep clean. But I think I’m just done trying to. We have forts throughout the house, Legos on the floor, food all over the place. I have Gatorades, open bottles of soda. I think that’s my biggest struggle, and yet that’s what they enjoy the most. Playing video games and being messy. They’ve never had that, and I think I’m just gonna allow that for now, to keep their sanity, as well as mine.”

nisey shanks

Nisey Shanks

Montessori teacher

East Dallas, March 20

“I was teaching at a Montessori school in Shanghai and we knew that things were happening in Wuhan but it didn’t feel like that big of a deal. And then Chinese New Year happened, which is a little bit like spring break. And so, basically, Shanghai emptied out. Soon after, the school called and said they were nullifying my contract and so I flew back here. But all of my things—my computer, my diploma, all my clothes—everything is still there.

“China is very community-focused. Grandparents always live with the families and so it’s so community-focused in that way. And so when the Chinese government said, ‘You have to stay indoors for the good of society,’ the people there get that. I feel like in the United States, there’s this weird pride where, ‘You’re not gonna tell me what I can and cannot do,’ and people here downplayed what happened over there, thinking it’s because it’s a Third World country. In actuality, though, the effect this may have here seems like it will be worse. Over here, rebellion is a little bit more valued in our culture. It’s how America was founded, right?

“So I’m the first in my family to graduate. I am very fortunate that I was able to find my life’s work and excel in it. And, basically, I was going to China to work and pay off my student debt. I worked really hard to get there. And to have it crumble, even though I made all the right moves and made all the hard choices, is currently very humbling. And I don’t think there’s anything I could have done different. But that doesn’t keep me from feeling terrible about the situation and feeling embarrassed and ashamed about something that I don’t have any control over.

“When I first got back here, I was two weeks ahead of everyone else. I was already wallowing in depression, and now almost everyone else has lost their jobs. And so it’s like now it’s like a communal depression that we’re all wallowing in and trying to navigate. I wish that I could say that I’m being so productive and starting a business, but no. I’m mostly just sleeping as late as I can so that I don’t have to be awake and watching the clock till 5 o’clock when I can start drinking. I’m kind of avoiding talking to people because I can’t be positive and I know that everybody’s going through the same stuff. So I don’t know. Things are feeling a little hopeless right now.”

alan paoletti

Alan Paoletti

Professional magician

Plano, March 21

“I’m a professional magician. It’s something I’ve been doing the last 12 years. It was kind of that fantasy job I always wanted to have and I got it. It was actually a result of losing my job back in 2008 during that whole housing market crash. I mostly work corporate events and do conferences, sales meetings, trainings. I do a little bit of trade shows and that kind of market. I’m open to more than that—house parties or birthday parties and stuff like that—but I try to focus mostly on the corporate market. I had an event scheduled with Amazon. They had their Dallas Summit coming in on March 3 and that was the first thing that canceled on me. So now, more and more stuff is canceling and everything’s gonna fall like dominoes. I also used to work doing magic in restaurants, and, of course, all the restaurants are closed. So all my income is gone.

“I’ve gone online, and I have started hosting live streaming shows on Facebook. I’ve been giving magic lessons, and it’s amazing the amount of people who are all coming out to support what I’m doing and helping me in this transition to a digital way of doing things. But also, there’s really cool Facebook groups that have popped up. It’s something that we need to be able to do—to have that human interaction

“It’s just been wonderful to see that we’re still hungry for that human interaction. We still need it. We still long for it, and we’re trying to find ways to fill that right now. So I’ve been overwhelmed with positivity. As ironic as that is, it seems like it’s a lovefest right now. As much as this all sucks, we’re all dealing with it together. For a while, I was feeling really guilty, because we rely on both of our incomes to make things work. My wife’s still working, but her pay is now reduced because she’s salaried. And I was feeling really guilty about not having been prepared for this. But I realized, Well, I’m far from the only person who’s dealing with this thing. It’s not a me problem. It’s not my fault. It’s the circumstance. And I had to forgive myself for the situation.

“I think if I’m feeling like that there’s probably a lot of other people feeling like that, and I think they should realize that they need to forgive themselves.”

maddy freeman and adler moore

Maddy Freeman and Adler Moore

Couple showing symptoms of COVID-19, in self-quarantine

East Dallas, March 24

Maddy Freeman: “Two Thursdays ago, I started feeling really beat down. I’m generally a pretty socially active person. I have a 9-to-5 and then on Fridays and Saturdays, like most people, I generally go out for the weekend. But that weekend I just didn’t. I passed out at 9:30 both nights, and that’s not a level of exhaustion that I generally encounter. And yet I just didn’t really think anything of it, initially. I did not put two and two together. So from there I kind of just kept going about my business. And then Tuesday, I went in to work. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed home, but I just didn’t think anything of it. And then Wednesday came around and that was when it all just hit me. I woke up out of breath from the outset. Just dry coughing with nothing coming up. That’s when I couldn’t disregard it any longer.

“But up until Friday night, I didn’t have a fever, and that’s been one of the major hindrances in even attempting to obtain any kind of testing. I think that’s been my biggest gripe through all this—that our healthcare system has failed us on a monumental level. Just not being prepared or having testing readily available for anyone who might have this. I mean, just look at all the people who are in the upper echelon and clearly asymptomatic and are able to receive definitive testing: government officials, celebrities, athletes. Keep in mind, I’m one of the very fortunate ones. I have a 9-to-5 job that is not based off of tips. I get sick pay for this kind of stuff, you know? Not everybody is in the same kind of position that I’m in, and I think that’s another thing that’s completely disheartening about all of this. Because I’ve been in that place before. I was in the service industry for over 10 years prior to this job, and that’s where all my friends still work, and they’re not afforded the same luxuries that I am.”

Adler Moore: “I’m from a Native American tribe called the Oglala Sioux, and I am of chief descent. And it recently hit us. A lot of our elders were infected and a few have recovered, totally healthy and fine. But we’ve lost a few. It is overall just absolutely debilitating to our tribe because all of our knowledge of our tribe is passed through spoken word, person to person, and for us to lose elders before their time can be like losing thousands of years of knowledge. So it first affected me that way.

“And then, I mean, I’m gonna be completely honest, I thought I was invincible. But I work behind the bar at one of the most popular nightclubs in Dallas. So I’m exposed to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people on a daily basis. Not even on a daily basis, but on an hourly basis. And no matter how many times I spray my hands down with hand sanitizer, I’m still just exposed to people and whatever they have. Grabbing cups off the bar, cleaning up napkins, limes that people bit on for tequila shot. You’re just constantly exposed. And I still thought I was invincible until I got to the point that I started having this nasty cough, where every 20 minutes I would wake up because my throat was just so dry. I thought at first I’d just been working too much.

“I called [the hospital] earlier today after Maddy was freaking out because we couldn’t get tested. I gave them my ZIP code and they told me that the quarantine area was completely full and there was nothing they could do. Man, they basically just said to stay home and then cross your fingers. I think it’s gonna be a couple miserable days coming up, but I think it’s gonna pass.”

iesha upshaw

Iesha Upshaw

High school science teacher

West Dallas, March 27

“So this week, we started our online classes. In my AVID class, it’s like a college preparatory study hall kind of a class, I gave my students the assignment in GIF form or meme form, so they could just tell me how they’re feeling about having to take classes online. And shockingly, even the kids are saying that they don’t like online classes, that they miss the social interaction that they have with their fellow classmates. Even the kids who are really antisocial or more quiet are saying that they miss the camaraderie of being around other people. I thought they would be more excited about getting the opportunity to basically work at their own leisure in their pajamas, but they’re actually missing the community as well.

“When you design a lesson, there’s a model to it. And so you have to adapt that model, if possible, to an online format. The reason why we still have physical classroom spaces is because, for the most part, you need face-to-face interactions. So there are just some pieces of it that you just are never going to be able to do through a computer. And the toughest part is being able to discern if the lesson is adaptable to an online format or is this something that, unfortunately, we’re just not going to have the opportunity to experience.

“I still prefer to grade physically and not on screen, so I’ve had to adapt that for myself. There’s a lot of this thing called scaffolding and spiraling of content. So there are things that I’ve taught before, and they need that information to do the lab, but because we’re not physically face-to-face, I can’t review with them that needed material, which is spiraling into today. Now it’s just like, ‘Well, here’s the PowerPoint of what we did earlier this year.’ And you’re banking on the student caring enough, or having enough mental and emotional wherewithal, to go through that PowerPoint. So it’s a lot of moving pieces.

“As a teacher, I am concerned about teaching my students how to critically think. And the lens through which I’m teaching them how to critically think is the subject of physics. So in 20 years from now, I’m not expecting them to be able to say, ‘Force equals mass times acceleration,’ but they should be able to look at something and understand cause and effect, because we’ve done enough labs for them to see that an independent variable causes some change in a dependent variable, and that there’s a relationship that has emerged there.”

Darren and brecia eubanks

Brecia and Darren Eubank

Musician and dance studio owner

Waxahachie, March 26

Darren: “We’ve had our entire spring, what was left of it—about 14 or 15 shows—completely canceled. But, man, as creatives, you just kind of sit there and figure out, ‘Well, where do we fit in all of this?’ And so we kind of just said, let’s figure out how we can make some money. And I think most people recognize it now, but every evening, there’s hundreds of artists around the country on livestreams, playing music. Thinking critically, I just realized that I don’t want to just randomly go live and play some songs and put my Cash App on the stream and ask for money. If I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do it in a way where I would plan to have the kind of show that people would travel to and buy tickets to. I want this to be as important as that kind of show.

“So I gathered a couple buddies before the shelter in place happened and invited them to the house and said, ‘We’re going to livestream continuously for three hours, and y’all will get a 30-minute set. We’ll do a high-def stream, that way the audio and the visuals are good.’ And I encouraged everyone not to go live that whole week. That way, all their fans would be waiting for them. So we did it this past Friday night, and it was so cool. At the end of the day, we raised just over 700 bucks for all the artists involved, which was crazy. I mean, I had no idea that people would give that much for online music, but they did.

“On the home front, my wife and I, we have a music series that we’re actually starting this year in the Ellis County area, and we had to postpone that. Also, my wife owns a dance studio, and her studio basically runs on the local school district’s schedule. So if they’re in session, classes are happening, and if they’re not in session, classes aren’t happening. And so when COVID-19 came down, the school district was actually on spring break, and then they extended the break to April 13. So it’s one of those things where we have a building lease to pay, and if classes aren’t meeting, then we’re not making money. And so I think as a couple we’ve probably lost about 15 grand.

“There’s just a whole lot of adapting going on right now. That’s an understatement. My wife ended up using Zoom and is livestreaming her dance classes at the same time she normally would have them. We literally moved all of our furniture out of the kitchen and the dining room, and she’s broadcasting from right here in the house. It’s definitely entertaining, but so far it’s been working. Kids love it, too, because they love using technology. I think after this there’s definitely gonna be a lot of new norms.”


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