Telling the Story of a Pandemic

  • April 1, 2021
Telling the Story of a Pandemic

This story is a collection of reporting undertaken by students in the Spring 2020 class of JRN 320: Multimedia Newsroom II. As universities and businesses around the country shut down, students returned to their hometowns and continued telling the story of a growing pandemic.

Racial and socioeconomic disparities are highlighted during COVID-19 crisis on Long Island

By Maya Brown

Daniela Ulloa saw the line of cars wrap around the restaurant. As she walked into the Sonic in East Meadow, her surgical mask covering most of her face, she knew that April 25 was going to be a busy day. Ulloa works in the kitchen with at least thirteen other staffers every shift. Despite state mandates for social distancing, Ulloa is never six feet away from anybody during her 30-hour work week. But being unemployed is not an option for her. 

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Capital Region officials move census efforts to TikTok and Youtube amid pandemic

By Joe McQueen

ALBANY, N.Y. – County and city officials in Albany and Schenectady fully moved all their census efforts to digital platforms in mid-March, including Tik Tok and YouTube instructional videos, and Twitter and Facebook campaigns, to replace in-person events and outreach, banned due to COVID-19.

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With Westchester County locked down, developmentally disabled population must adjust to a new reality

by Samuel Rowland

Howard Anders (or Howard Andersmen, as he called himself) lived a full and happy life. He traveled the world, regularly volunteered around his home town and attended Saturday services at First Hebrew Congregation every week. He was almost always seen in the company of his friend and roommate, especially when attending services.

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Foster families face additional stress under COVID-19 lockdown

By Niki Nassiri

A foster parent to three kids aged twelve to seventeen, Willard Lin feels like she’s fighting an uphill battle alone during the coronavirus pandemic. The kids are restless — the only way to communicate with their biological mother is through phone calls and Facetime, and their motivation for school is dwindling. Lin, whose job turned virtual on April 3, is struggling to stay on top of all their needs and her own.

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Staff shortages and low pay magnify EMS issues in NYC during pandemic

By Cindy Mizaku

Working up to 20 hours a day, Lauren Hartnett, an executive board member of EMS Union Local 2507, has visited dozens of fire departments across New York City, and has given out food, sanitizing supplies and surgical masks to over 4,000 exhausted emergency workers fighting COVID-19 on the frontlines.

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Protesters request the release of at-risk “people on the inside” in Sing Sing prison

By James Bowen

OSSINING, N.Y.— More than 40 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in less than a month by the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) in Sing Sing prison in Ossining. Juan Mosquero was the first of three confirmed deaths due to the Coronavirus on March 30 — just two weeks after an employee had also tested positive for the virus.

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More than 15,000 second-grade students and their parents struggle with virtual home-schooling amid closure of Suffolk County schools

By Stephanie Melo

“I don’t get this,” Leila Quintanilla, my 8-year-old daughter, said after five consecutive hours in front of our shared computer screen. Our kitchen table has become her new school desk. She switches back and forth from her pencil to a computer mouse to complete her virtual assignments. Since stay-at-home orders began, my role has expanded. I am now a college student, a second-grade teacher, and a mother, with all the duties and responsibilities those three jobs entail.

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COVID-19 presses pause on Long Island’s wedding industry

By Cece Cruz

Jessica Morin and her fiancé Andrew Cocuzza were set to get married on Saturday, March 28, but when New York banned gatherings of more than 500 people on March 12 due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, one thing was clear to them: after planning their wedding for a year and a half, their save-the-date had to take a raincheck. 

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Let it grow – Vermont’s community gardens navigate the pandemic

By Sabrina Liguori

VERMONT — Misse Axelrod fills bags with soil, seeds, empty egg cartons and written instructions on how to plant and care for the seeds. She’s sending them to local schoolchildren for their annual spring gardening initiative, which they’re starting from their homes due to COVID-19. In mid-May, these homegrown seedlings will be transplanted into school gardens across central Vermont.

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Sports reporters and broadcasters adjust to life without sports

By Sasha Podzorov

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Standing poised in front of a nine-paneled TV inside the WROC studio in Rochester, Alexa Ross gave a monologue to open the evening sports segment on April 11. The sports department was struggling to find material for the segment, something that rarely happens.  

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For Long Islanders in quarantine, Animal Crossing: New Horizons bridges social distance

By Josh Joseph

Tess Bergman was bedridden for two weeks. Upon testing positive for COVID-19, she was forced to self-quarantine in her Ronkonkoma home. But a strange new world came to her rescue, in the form of Animal Crossing: New Horizons — a recent release for her Nintendo Switch. Developing and cultivating a miniature digital island full of plants and wildlife kept her sane.

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Cincinnatians feed food insecure students during COVID-19

By Sara Ruberg

On the front driveway, a grey-haired woman and two men wearing masks and rubber gloves shove grocery bags full of PB&J sandwiches into larger plastic bags. Around 11 a.m., families start to show up to pick up their lunches. Most days at Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, meals for food insecure students go quickly — sometimes in less than 30 minutes.

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Rent strike occurs on May 1 as Queens senator proposes a bill that would suspend rent payments for 90 days

By Anthony Leon

At least 40% of New Yorkers were unable to pay their rent last month, and Bhavisha Perry was one of them. A massage therapist who lives in a privately-owned apartment building in Briarwood, Queens, Perry worked at Remedy Massage, in Manhattan, NY, until the place was forced to shut down on March 17. A GoFundMe fundraiser was started by Remedy’s founder Leigh Hansen, but Perry said the donations are not enough to cover her expenses for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Over 14,000 students stuck abroad due to embassy closures and flight cancellations

By Rabia Gursoy

My sister, Nihal Gursoy, sent me a text on April 10 at around 8 p.m.

“Don’t tell my parents I don’t want them to worry.” 

It was 2 a.m in Berlin, 3,924 miles away from me. I picked up the phone immediately. She had called an ambulance to Neon Wood Student Apartments, where she lives, fearing she was having a heart attack. She wasn’t. Had she wanted to go to the hospital, she’d have to put herself at risk of COVID-19. I worry about her constantly especially since she has no one to call if anything serious were to happen. Nihal is unable to renew her visa, and just like 14,000 other students in Germany, she is stranded, unable to return home while embassies remain closed.

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Three Long Island distilleries shift to produce hand sanitizer filling increased demand due to COVID-19

By Cece Cruz

At least three Long Island distilleries among 160 in New York State are voluntarily swapping their production from booze to hand sanitizers to help protect essential workers and the public against the coronavirus pandemic.

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