In Texas, a photographer worries about paying his bills. In Pennsylvania, an aspiring dancer struggles with a canceled audition. In suburban Los Angeles, a mother wonders whether anyone will show up for her son’s bar mitzvah.
Across the United States, the coronavirus outbreak is shuttering schools, emptying sports arenas and clearing out offices as Americans practice “social distancing” – staying at least 6 feet (1.8 m) apart from one another – that health authorities say is necessary to slow the advance of the deadly pandemic.
Like any attempted remedy, there are unpleasant side effects.
In New Rochelle, New York, National Guard troops delivered groceries and other necessities to the more than 100 people who were ordered to stay in their houses after testing positive for the coronavirus. College professor P.L. de Silva, who was given a clean bill of health by his doctor, said he was headed out to stock up on rice, beans and other dried foods with a long shelf life. “Those things last, right?” he said.
The suburban town is eerily quiet, he said, as residents trade news about who may have gotten sick and workers at the local laundromat say they are too nervous to keep coming to work.
“People are terrified,” he said.
Beth Randolph Taylor, 50, did not touch her 94-year old father when she visited him on Wednesday in an acute rehab facility in Kansas City, Kansas, where he is being treated for a broken hip and pneumonia.
“I stood 6 feet away and gave him air hugs,” said Taylor, whose mother passed away in February. “I thought: ‘This might be the last time I get to see my dad.’”
Analysts say the virus risks plunging the world’s largest economy into recession as people put their lives on hold – canceling travel plans, staying home and steering clear of restaurants, movie theaters and other public spaces.
More than 1,300 U.S. cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and 38 people have died.
The Life Care Center of Kirkland, a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases, is pictured in Kirkland, Washington, U.S. March 12, 2020.
‘MY HEART IS BREAKING’
Austin, Texas, cinematographer Kyle Osburn estimates he lost $20,000 in business because of the coronavirus – nearly half of that due to the cancellation of the South by Southwest music and arts festival, which pumps $336 million into the local economy.
As a self-employed freelancer, he worries he may not qualify for unemployment aid and other safety-net benefits for those who lose their jobs.
“It’s always feast or famine for creative freelancers – and right now, we are in an extreme famine,” he said.
As colleges cancel classes, students struggle with the realization that their academic careers may end with a whimper, free of the graduation parties, final recitals and other capstone events.
Others wonder whether they will be able to complete science courses that require laboratory work.