Humans of COvid-19
"When I'm outside by myself, I don't wear my mask - I keep it around my neck. When I see other people coming, I put it on so they're eased, but I'm not afraid of anybody not wearing a mask. I'ma tattoo artist, I know about germs, all that good stuff, so it doesn't bother me. I just do if for everybody else to make everybody else feel good."
COVID Profile Story
Sitting in his backyard, a swath of greenery lingering in the background on a mild Saturday afternoon, Ben Esely thinks about the moments that have impacted him most since COVID-19 really hit his life and business.
Esely is the owner of Bearded Monk, a beer shop and bar in Denton, who has dealt with unforeseen changes in his life and bar since March.
“Everybody’s kinda been hiding out. This is from my view of the world that if I were a grocery store, business is doing great, because everyone’s staying at home and looking on groceries,” Esely said. “But in the bar world and the small business world, it’s not so great.”
One of the lessons he’s taken away in the pandemic is communicating well and often with customers who come by hoping to sit at the bar, since Bearded Monk has switched to curbside pickup and drive–thru service in following guidelines and state mandates.
“Just in marketing it [the business], we’re still having trouble telling folks that they can’t come into the bar, but people just walk up and try to walk in. No that’s not how today works,” Esely said. “We do try to post ‘hey, we are only curbside and UberEATS’ with everything we put out there.”
As a sociable person in a normally lively area, Esely hasn’t enjoyed the pandemic’s effects on socialization.
“On the social note, it’s not so much fun. I don’t get to go see friends. I don’t get to go to buddies’ breweries around Dallas. I haven’t hugged someone outside my family in eight months, and I’m a big hugger.”
Though there are a few things that haven’t been good for Esely, there has been one aspect of COVID has been what he calls a blessing- spending more time with his family.
“Before, when the Bearded Monk was a functioning bar, and I was getting home at 2 in the morning. I would have to work weekends if we had a bunch of people out,” Esely said. “We don’t have that right now, so I get to be home a lot. So, I now kind of have a nine to five, so I get to be with the wife and kiddos for dinner and bedtime and all that.”
Crowd Sourcing: UNT's COVID-19 Response
I asked multiple people: How do you feel about UNT’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and why? Here are their responses.
"I think it should stay the way it is for another year. They really don't care about us, just our money." -Isaac Alayande
"I think UNT has done and is doing a great job all things considered. This is not the biggest blow our Eagle has been dealt in her life so, comparatively, this is nothing other than a slight inconvenience that required adaptability. You know, like life. She's also indicated that she is fine with not having spring break because she'll be finished with the semester earlier." -Lisa Williams Youngblood
"Really disappointed there was no online option for one of my classes. There's no reason to have it be remote, but require us to be on campus to take the test on our computers, especially when some of us couldn't afford to move back to Denton." -Dallas Peacock
It's satisfactory. I don't call it exemplary by any means, but satisfactory because they are taking all of the state and national mandates, as far as wearing masks and social distancing. Things they could do better? I realize a lot of it, some things are out of their hands, but some of the students are financially affected-- they're not able to find some of the financial assistance that they maybe should have."- Brett
"I think, in general, that it's a good idea because they [the students] have to learn how to function with the new normal, and we have to figure out how to get back to work and school." -Teri Sullivan
"I have been pleased with UNT’s response to an extremely challenging time. In March, our faculty transitioned to all online courses over 2 weeks, which was a huge undertaking. I’m the science librarian at UNT and know firsthand how diligently the science departments worked to give the students a comparable experience for the rest of the spring semester. University administration and staff also worked long hours through the spring and summer on a plan to bring students back safely and thus far the plan has been successful with very few cases of COVID-19. As an employee I’m grateful for the university’s willingness to let people work from home. I really miss working with the students, but home is the safest place for me to be right now." -Erin O'Toole
"I think UNT has handled the COVID-19 crisis in a similar manner when compared with other schools. I don’t think there is a perfect way to deal with something as unprecedented as this and hindsight is always 20/20. No matter the strategy, someone is always going to complain that they should’ve done something differently. They seem to be really attempting to implement safety measures to the best of their ability." -Chelsea Anderson
Project One: COVID Elections
The November elections will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and new voting regulations, such as social distancing and reduced polling locations, but some Americans won’t let that stop them from going to the polls.
When asked how they think COVID-19 will affect the upcoming elections, many didn't have a partisan answer and didn’t fear crowding at polling places, like Delaney Harrington.
“I think that the people who usually vote in the elections, will still get out and vote. It could be sleeting or hailing here in Texas, and I'd still get out there and vote!“ Harrington said. “And like I tell my kids and friends, "If you don't vote, you lose your right to complain about the outcome."’
Others, like Tobasia Griffiths in a message, think COVID-19 could bring more people out to vote for a candidate who will better address the pandemic with not much faith in either.
"It [COVID-19] will stress the election by putting everyone on their toes even more than ever because the people want their government and officials to handle this pandemic and be done with it,” Griffiths said. “Each candidate has a plan but we don't know for certain that it will actually work. It seems like something out of a movie with a screwy finish because the expectation is sooo high someone is going to be disappointed."
Comparing mail-in voting to in-person voting, Cynthia Baker, a Dallas resident thinks fraud is a concern with fake ballot boxes.
“I’ve already heard on the news that there are fake ballot boxes being placed,” Baker said. “And there’s a serious charge for that.”
More responses with participants' pictures are below.
"I have heard that there is a possibility that due to the increased number of mail-in ballots, all the votes will not be counted in time for a result on Nov 3. Don't know how accurate that prediction is, and it's not a huge deal if that does happen. I also think there is more false information about voting being passed around due to COVID concerns. Overall I think everything will work out fine, but 2020 has been wild and unpredictable. who knows!!" -Savannah Thomas
"COVID is the elections." -Z-undre Robinson
"I think that the people who usually vote in the elections, will still get out and vote. It could be sleeting or hailing here in Texas, and I'd still get out there and vote! And like I tell my kids and friends... "If you don't vote, you lose your right to complain about the outcome." -Delaney Harrington
"Agree with the above statement! People who vote, vote! If you can go to the Target, Walmart and Kroger, you can stand in line abs vote! Would not trust mail in vote being counted! I have had too many issues in the past if things getting lost or not reaching their destination for months after. Vote in person VOTE in person!" -Terri Roach
"It [COVID19] will stress the election by putting everyone on their toes even more than ever because the people want their government and officials to handle this pandemic and be done with it. Each candidate has a plan but we don't know for certain that it will actually work. It seems like something out of a movie with a screwy finish because the expectation is sooo high someone is going to be disappointed." -Tobasia Griffiths
"The election this year is a great concern for both political parties so I believe voting in person for those who do vote will have a high turn out." -Raul R. Quiroz Jr.
"COVID-19 has brought a contrast into focus. Some want a more powerful central government ad therefore demand a “national response” to the coronavirus and other issues as well. Others want more local control in general and therefore applaud when the President defers to state governors and local health officials to decide. The founders of the United States were very concerned about too much power in the federal government and put lots of barriers to centralized power in the US Constitution. The contrast is broader than the coronavirus, but voters’ beliefs about how much power each level of government should have is reflected in their assessment of how candidates have correctly or incorrectly responded to the virus." -Mari Garland
"I don’t believe there will be much impact solely based on Covid-19 to the total number of votes cast. In my experience, people who vote, vote. Those that don’t vote complain." -Colin Lane
"Because of the issues surrounding voting and Covid-19, my family will be early voting to avoid the possible crowds. My hope is that there are enough election volunteers to staff the locations and allow for people to move thru the lines quickly and with less contact and exposure." -Sarah Wetherbee
"I believe that the majority of people are determined to make a change. We need something different than what's been happening in the past 4 years. I feel like the reason it's gonna be effected is because nothing's really been done to make matters better." -Cynthia Baker
Liveblogging: Dallas County Judge Press Briefing Twitter Coverage
Link to full thread.
Facebook Live: How COVID-19 has impacted My Life
Remembering what my life was like before COVID-19 is almost a blur. I can say a lot has changed. I didn’t personally experience any deaths in my family, but the pandemic did take a toll on my mental health, social life, work and the effort I put forth in college. #UNTMojoF20
Creating Infographics for Mobile: Mask and Transmission Risk
Original infographic from Excel Labs:
Video Interview with Captions added
Election Reactions: Part 1 12/03/20
Following the 2020 presidential election, there were many strong emotions expressed across the nation about the results and the ongoing attempts to reverse the results.
Results showed former Vice President Joe Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral college over President Donald Trump. Though Joe Biden is now considered president-elect, the Trump campaign and several states have demanded recounts and investigations of voter fraud.
Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes compared to President Trump at 232, and four percent more of the popular vote with over 80 million votes, according to the New York Times.
Voters across the political spectrum have had something to say about both Biden’s win and claims of voter fraud and the continued refusal of the incumbent president to accept the results.
Shifting through insult-laden posts reacting to the election results insulting one political party or the other can prove difficult. Under an MSNBC tweet about certified results in Michigan, a woman named Jaya Ratnam feels a recount will still be called.
“I am sure Trump will ask for a recount again,” Ratnam said. “This drama of his will continue until 20th January 2021.”
Some Americans, like Mike Hemmings, are in disbelief following the current president filing later rejected lawsuits to contest votes. In a post to the PBS NewsHour account on Facebook reporting a court repealing Trump challenging the Pennsylvania results, Hemmings made his feelings known.
“This lawsuit was rejected by two Bush appointees and one Trump judge. You can't go into court with baseless claims and expect to win your case,” Hemmings said. “Saying something happened without evidence means nothing!”
Despite the Trump administration attacking American voting systems and practices, 53% of Republicans and right-leaning Americans would favor Trump for a 2024 presidential run, according to a Politico poll.
Janet Messmer thinks Republicans’ current support will change within the next few years.
“That result is right now. Wait a bit and see. 4 years is eons in political terms,” Messmer said. “Thousands of things could and will happen between now and the 2024 campaign.”
One positive reaction to the results came from Aubrey Oliver, a Biden voter who also voted in the 2016 election.
“I was very happy,” Oliver said. “It was nice to see my vote go toward something and someone like Biden. I just felt relief, just to see everything that we've been going through as a country, so my first reaction is definitely relief.”
Election Results, Part 2: Effects on the Country 12/04/20
The results of the 2020 presidential election will impact the future of the economy, voter trust in future elections and the handling of COVID-19 and its vaccine distribution.
Unlike in previous concluded elections, President Trump has yet to concede. Though Joe Biden won the nomination as President-Elect but the Trump Administration delayed access to the White House and briefings for several weeks. Afrika Hunt from Pennsylvania believes the next few months will be defining for the next administration.
“I feel that the first 100 days of his office will set the theme for his term,” Hunt said. “There are lots of unknowns here, though.”
The economy has been on decline with thousands of Americans filing for unemployment benefits weekly. Due to the pandemic, filings have been increasing since spring but dropped the week of the election and the labor market has slowed down.
Last week, claims rose to 828,000 and Congress has stalled additional relief stimulus for families and small businesses. As a result, economic recovery efforts have made little progress following the election. Amanna Ogbonna from Texas expects positive economic change as a future result.
“I feel racial and party tensions will be high,” Ogbonna said. “I’m just hoping that positive change comes for those living in poverty, experiencing joblessness, & other underserved minority communities.”
Furthermore, Trump has downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and ignored CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus. Now that vaccines are becoming available to the public, Trump is taking credit for their availability rather than crediting the scientists. This contributes to division among Americans.
American democracy could change as it is now and erode Americans’ trust in the voting process because of disinformation and beliefs that the election has been rigged.
Despite evidence and rejected lawsuit filings, Republicans of several state governments in many levels of power continue pushing claims that the election is not fair or working as intended. A USA Today report finds Republican politicians pushing disinformation have used denying loss results in their own elections.
On the other hand, Aubrey Oliver, a UNT student, says this election might inspire more people to become politically active or vote.
“I also think that when the country feels like it's in a dark place knowing that the people do have the power to vote and get people they don’t like out of office,” Oliver said. "I think that we’ll be seeing a lot more of that.”