Scavenger hunt! A worldwide social project begins to uplift the spirits of children stuck at home under quarantine with no school and no playdates. Community members everywhere place stuffed bears, animals, and other creatures in their windows for neighborhood children to find while on walks or bike rides. Kids’ routine daily outings are suddenly transformed into smile-filled adventures. The idea is inspired by the classic children’s book We’re Going On a Bear Hunt and spread across social media. My 10-year-old will love searching our neighborhood for these “window stuffies” for weeks.
I started working on this piece three weeks ago. King County was ground zero for the US outbreak and Seattle artists were some of the first and worst hit economically by the pandemic. As an artist myself, it was heartbreaking to see my community suddenly lose all their work (they’re still losing work). I wanted to write something that named not only our struggles, but also our resilience in the face of those struggles. Yet with bad news growing seemingly by the minute and my depression/anxiety along with it, writing became excruciating. I wasn’t sure I would ever finish. Happy to say, however, thanks to the support of family and friends and the determination of my own resilience, I FINISHED and the piece went live today, on my birthday! Gratitude to all the incredible artists who spoke with me for this special piece (you inspire me) and to the wonderful people whose encouragement got me to the finish line
After Washington’s stay-at-home order is issued, the also iconic Seattle Center – home to Seattle’s Space Needle – is almost completely deserted as well. Apart from a few scattered people walking by or sitting to rest, the sprawling 74-acre arts, educational, tourism and entertainment center is strangely quiet.
After Washington’s stay-at-home order is issued, Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market becomes almost completely deserted. A handful of food vendors, classified as “essential” businesses, remain open. But other than a few customers, the normally popular market is shockingly empty at opening and throughout the day.
In a televised evening address, Gov. Jay Inslee issues an immediate statewide “stay-at-home” order for at least two weeks. Inslee had resisted giving such an order despite Washington being the first U.S. state hit by an outbreak and other states already ordering stay-at-home or shelter-in-place (California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, etc.). But after widespread reports of crowding at Washington parks over the weekend and shocking photos of residents failing to maintain 6-ft safe distance, the order was finally issued. Seattle becomes quieter than ever.
Despite strong urging by Governor Inslee to stay at home and practice social distancing, Washington residents still flock to public parks during unusually sunny spring weather. Because people are congregating at public parks and fields, and using playgrounds that are supposed to be off limits, Seattle Parks & Recreation barricades parking lots, closes fields, and tapes off all city play equipment.
Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID), which is filled with small shops and eat-in restaurants, relies heavily on foot traffic. Because of racism and disease stigma, the CID suffered a big decline in customers early on. With the restaurant closure & restriction in place, the District becomes ghostly quiet. Many of the small CID businesses struggle month-to-month and have been resisting gentrification for a long time. Now, business owners wonder, will they have to close their doors permanently?
Governor Jay Inslee announces statewide closure of all restaurants, bars, and recreation spaces. Take-out is still ok and restaurants (that can) try to stay open for delivery and to-go orders. However, it is a struggle for most as business drops off steeply.
After appearance of the first SPS positive COVID-19 case at Aki Kurose Middle School and increasing pressure from community groups, Seattle Public Schools suddenly closes through at least the end of April. The district is unprepared, however, and there is no real plan for continued learning. Moving school online is not an option because of limited or no technology access for certain student populations. It will take weeks for the district to begin pulling together other learning options.
COVID-19 cases continue to grow in King County and officials recommend employers allow as many people to telecommute as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus. Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and other tech firms tell their thousands of Seattle-based employees to stay home. Seattle typically ranks 2nd worst in the nation for traffic congestion but the streets clear rapidly. As many more businesses are restricted or closed, the roads become even emptier and the early morning commute becomes completely unrecognizable. I took these images overlooking downtown Seattle on a Friday morning, around 7:30-8:00am, during what should have been bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.