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My schedule was wiped clean by the virus. With little to do, I photographed the landscape of empty streets. An empty street is beautiful at first. But as more and more people became sick, the quiet roads looked bleak.
If you’re a Pittsburgher, you know to look for the helpers thanks to Fred Rogers. So that’s what I did. I found brave volunteers giving their time and resources to help people in need. Organizations, nonprofits, and individuals found creative ways to carry on.
Even when we’re all thinking about uncertainty, we find new ways to persist—even celebrate. The loss of life is terrible and tragic. But, the renewed appreciation for life is worth photographing.
Water buffaloes, toilets, and hand-washing stations have been set up near common homeless camps like this one under the P.J. McArdle Roadway in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Hand-washing is a critical tool for prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank hosted 21 emergency food-distribution events through mid-May. On average, 950 vehicles were served 50,000 pounds of food per event. On assignment for Food Bank supporter The Pittsburgh Foundation, I captured dozens of volunteers in action, including Cynthia Dallas, during the April 10 event at PPG Paints Arena.
Jasiri X, CEO of the artist and activist collective 1Hood Media, says he noticed many people in minority communities not following social distancing guidelines. Knowing that black Americans are dying at a disproportionate rate from COVID-19, 1Hood members created educational posters and hung them around Pittsburgh. Jasiri is pictured here in East Liberty.
Eight-year-old Cary Abeshouse practices ballet with his teacher, virtually, in his family’s backyard in Edgewood. His parents, Daniel and Kristan, who are able to work from home, are in the background.
Father Joshua Makoul presides over Orthodox Easter services at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland. Parishioners would normally be inside the church, but to prevent the spread of the virus the service was livestreamed. Some parishioners participated outside the church in a candle-lighting ceremony partially adapted to suit social distancing rules.
Participants in a parade of 20 cars or so honked, clapped, and thanked staff members of the Jewish Association on Aging as they stood on sidewalks outside of the Squirrel Hill campus. Waving is Danielle Bennett-Nunley, a physical therapy assistant.
On Mother’s Day, Bob Wyner was able to visit with his 96-year-old mother, Rose, for the first time in weeks. To help families celebrate the holiday, the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA) arranged “window visits” for its residents and their loved ones. For safety, a plexiglass or glass door served as a barrier to prevent contact. Children were not allowed to visit, so family members shared photographs and used FaceTime with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Nursing homes have been the hardest hit by COVID-19. Thanks to the adoption of strict rules of operation, the facilities operated by the JAA have had no cases.
On May 2, Phil Coyne, aka “Uncle Philly,” celebrated 102 years on his great-nephew’s lawn in Highland Park as friends and family strolled and drove by wishing him a happy birthday. A bagpiper played and family sang, all while safely socially distancing. Phil is a beloved figure in Pittsburgh sports. He was an usher for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1936 to 2018, starting at age 18 and retiring at age 99. Next to him in the photo is his signature snack, a packet of Oreos.
Julie Piasecki, co-valedictorian of Brashear High School’s class of 2020 and a Pittsburgh Promise Scholar, will head to Slippery Rock University in the fall. She has been at home since March 13 doing her schoolwork on an iPad her parents gave her as a graduation gift. Although she received her cap and gown, Julie and her classmates didn’t walk in a graduation ceremony due to the pandemic. She poses in the family’s backyard with a homemade mask.
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