Photojournal: New Normal

Today an order by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine goes into effect mandating that all Seattle and King County residents wear face coverings over their mouth and noses while inside businesses or public transit. Face coverings must also be worn outside where social distancing isn’t possible. In many Asian countries (like Taiwan where my family is from), mask-wearing for health and safety has long been a cultural norm. But how will Americans deal with this unfamiliar new normal?

Asian grocery store chain Uwajimaya starts requiring face coverings in all their locations pre-emptively on May 11, 2020.
Plexiglass barriers to protect workers, like those seen here to protect cashiers at Renton Uwajimaya, become an increasingly common sight.
As re-opening begins, businesses try to adapt to the times and keep their patrons safe. At T&T Seafood in Edmonds, chairs are organized to space customers at least 6-feet apart when ordering and picking up takeout.
Signs at Kubota Garden in South Seattle warn visitors to maintain safe social distance, avoid congregating in groups, and keep moving.
300-acre Seward Park in South Seattle is usually swarming with cars, bikes, and other wheeled vehicles. But in the late stages of quarantine, the parking lot has been closed for weeks and the 2.6-mile loop around the park peninsula has been restricted to pedestrians only to minimize crowding.

Photojournal: Seattle Community Kitchen Collective

After Gov. Inslee closes or restricts all restaurants and cafes, some eateries transform themselves into community kitchens to offer free food to those in need, no questions asked. In South Seattle, a grassroots POC-led group of restaurant owners and chefs band together to feed the South End. They call themselves the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective. The Collective includes MusangFeed The PeopleThat Brown Girl CooksXpat Supper Club, and Guerilla Pizza Kitchen. It also has close ties with Hood Famous Bakeshop and Sugar Hill. Shot for the South Seattle Emerald.

Chef Melissa Miranda brings out free meals to a community member waiting curbside. Her Filipino restaurant, Musang, was the first to turn into a community kitchen.
Clockwise left to right: Melissa Miranda (Musang owner), Jonnah Ayala, Cameron Hanin (Guerrilla Kitchen), Sheena Eliz, and Jason Stratton
Chef Tarik Abdullah of Feed the People jokes as he gives free meals to a mother and child waiting curbside.

Photojournal: Going on a Bear Hunt

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.

Photojournal: Seattle Center

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.

Photojournal: Pike Place Market

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.

Photojournal: Stay-At-Home Order Issued

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.

Photojournal: Caution, Closed

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.

Photojournal: Seattle’s Chinatown-International District

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?

Photojournal: Seattle Public Schools Close

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.