Coronavirus: A snapshot of American life under lockdown

By Tara McKelvey
BBC News, Washington

Media caption,
'My income vanished overnight with no safety net'

How has your life changed because of the coronavirus? The answer will depend a lot on where you live.

Around half the people in the US have been told to stay at home in a bid to try to stop the spread of the virus. That means tens of millions of other Americans are living under less stringent restrictions.

Some are still out gallivanting. Many, though, are hunkering down following social distancing guidance.

Here is a look at how some Americans in very different parts of the country are reacting to their own "new normal".


Coronavirus cases: 1,247

Restrictions: No state-wide stay-at-home orders but bars and nightclubs are closed and public gatherings over 10 are banned.

Making masks for hospital workers

Image source, Submitted photo
Image caption,
Courtney Eidson says she went to the grocery store for a can of tomato paste and the shelves were bare

Courtney Eidson lives in Sharpsburg, a small rural community south of Atlanta. She's a graphic designer and is staying at home with her husband, a commercial appraiser, and her two sons.

She's angry at the shortage of protective equipment for those on the frontline of the outbreak.

"We've been caught with our pants down," she says. "At least you should have had enough masks for healthcare workers."

Her son Sam, 16, is now working on a Boy Scout project to make surgical masks for a local hospital, creating them from sewing patterns. The whole family is pitching in.


Coronavirus cases: 3,023

Restrictions: Residents must stay at home except to perform essential services, buy groceries, take a walk or get medical help.

Biking and beverages

Image source, Submitted photo
Image caption,
Mark Madeo gets a break from shelter-in-place orders with bike rides near his home in San Francisco

Mark Madeo, 53, a photographer and actor in San Francisco, says that the virus - for all its peril - has helped bring people together. The city is in "lockdown", he says, and he is hunkering down in his apartment except for bike rides and twice-daily trips to a liquor store near his house - often for Kombucha.

He has shopped there for more than a decade, but says that in the age of coronavirus the place has become a vital part of life. People maintain a proper distance in the shop, he adds, but still "it gets very chatty."


Coronavirus cases: 1,284

Restrictions: Schools are closed, and a stay-at-home order is in place in some counties.

Living room becomes a bingo hall

Image source, Submitted photo
Image caption,
Craig Stanzak and his children Kaitie, four, and Calvin, seven, and his wife, Kristin, play games at home

During the day Kristin Stanzak and her husband, Craig, run a take-out sandwich shop in Beaver. They are worried about their business, and so they are working harder than ever. Meanwhile their oldest son, who is 22, watches his younger sister and brother at home and helps them with school assignments.

She says she has been coping with the stress of the pandemic in a couple of different ways. First, she says: "I am not listening to the news anymore." Secondly, she plays games. At night she and her husband pull apart their modular sofa and set it up like a bingo hall for the family, and they call out the numbers.


Coronavirus cases: 397

Restrictions: Schools are closed, and so are fitness centres, theatres and other businesses.

Image source, Vangie Williams
Image caption,
Vangie Williams and her daughters, LeAna, Leila and Lylia, and her husband, Glenn enjoy the Rappahannock River

Down to the river

Vangie Williams, a defence contractor who is running for Congress as a Democrat, is now running a virtual political campaign, connecting with voters by phone and online.

She lives in King George, between Washington DC and Richmond, and says the crisis has brought families closer together. She agrees with the decision to close the schools but says officials should send out lesson plans so children can keep up with their assignments.

To avoid cabin fever, she spends time outdoors with her family by the Rappahannock River.

"You can look at the rapids," she says, "and see little silver fish."


Coronavirus cases: 33,006

Restrictions: Stay-at-home order for all residents, non-essential businesses closed.

Opera on the roof

Image source, Rima Brindamour
Image caption,
Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner (right) and her wife, Ashley have been trying to support local food makers and farmers during the downturn

Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner, who writes about food and travel, and her wife, Ashley, a tech worker, live in a 700-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn.

"I write about restaurants, and the entire industry is collapsing," she says.

On warm spring evenings they dine on their rooftop, where they can see the Empire State Building and watch their opera-singer neighbour perform on a nearby roof.