Scenes from around town as Piedmonters cope with life in a pandemic

How close is 'too close' for our sidewalks, especially now that parks are off-limits?

In the last ten days life has taken a dizzying turn with the frightening spread of COVID-19: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-in-place order has been followed by urgent calls from Piedmont’s own mayor and staff to stay away from each other, out of parks, off of fields and playgrounds. This has meant closures of schools, businesses, workplaces, churches, restaurants, and places that comprise the heartbeat of Piedmont. 

Mulberry’s has put up signs on their doors requesting a maximum of 20 people inside the store at once. Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers stopped by to remind shoppers to practice “social distancing.” The rule was to stand at least six feet apart from anyone at all times. 

The Piedmont Exedra has been documenting changes around the heart of town during the past week and talked to Piedmonters — 6 feet distant, of course — about how they are adjusting to a new world order and life amidst a pandemic. Here’s what the following residents had to say:

Haylee Cheng and Teresa McKay, 7th grade students at Piedmont Middle School

“We’re going to have to get used to the new online curriculum,” said Cheng. “I feel like I’ll get more sleep though because we have the opportunity to sleep in,” she added. McKay pointed out the new limits on her social life: “Haylee invited me for dinner. My dad wouldn’t let me; he doesn’t want me to have friends over and go to friend’s houses.”

Laura DuDell-Foley
Resident Laura DuDell-Foley trying to stay centered in difficult times (courtesy of DuDell-Foley)

DuDell-Foley is extra appreciative of nearby family – her son and daughter-in-law – who regularly check in on her and her husband, who are both over 70 and trying to stay home as much as possible. DuDell-Foley keeps herself busy with body-centric activities, like lifting weights, dancing (through an online class), and taking walks in her neighborhood. 

Ren Orans, founder of an environmental economics company

Working from home and managing 75 employees, Orans says technology has proved its worth: “People say that technology is this dehumanizing thing, but now potentially technology is something that can increase the ability to work together and to communicate effectively.” Orans acknowledged he and his family are settling in for the long haul, noting the importance of “flattening the curve,” a concept which refers to the need to practice community isolation (social distancing) in order to slow the virus’ spread in order not to overwhelm the healthcare system. “We’re planning for a long-term stay….We have a 92-year-old — my wife’s mother lives with us — so that’s been the main concern.”

Joan Jung

Compared to previous disasters – the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, recent droughts and wildfires, Jung worries “[the coronavirus] seems to be more uncontrollable.” She said the City has been good at staying on top of the virus coverage, which helps keep some of her worries at bay. “As long as Piedmont keeps us alert and updates us on COVID-19, I’d be very happy with that,” said Jung, adding, “Of course I watch the news, but the news tends to stress me out more so [I] try to limit how much we watch it.”

Blaise Harrison, Millennium High School ASB President
Blaise Harrison hikes to stay sane (courtesy of Blaise Harrison)

“Sheltering-in-place has changed my life wildly. I usually do a ton of things at once, so all my activities getting cancelled sucks. My choir meets online, but we can’t all sing at once on Zoom. And, though I now have tons of time, Parkinson’s law (the idea that work expands as to fit the time available) seems to make me lazy and unable to do work. Hikes keep me sane!”

Dana Locke

As long as shelter-in-place means she can continue to enjoy the outdoors, she feels a measure of relief: “I don’t think there’s danger in the fresh air, and I need to be in nature,” said Locke. “I’m just going to trust that it’s going to be okay. I kind of trust the universe too,” she added philosophically.

The Piedmont Exedra will be following the COVID-19 pandemic closely and re-posting all city notices on our website. If you are interested in sharing your experience, story  ideas, or tips, please contact reporter Sarah Belle Lin at sbellelin@piedmontexedra.

Photos by Sarah Belle Lin (unless otherwise noted)

One thought on “Scenes from around town as Piedmonters cope with life in a pandemic

  1. Sarah,
    You wrote a wonderful piece! Thank you for including me, and for your patience. I like the way you put it together, and it was interesting for me to read how each person responded. I’ll be reading the Piedmont Exedra regularly now. It’s a wonderful community resource.
    Stay well,

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