Chicago shares social distancing stories


Chicagoans are coping with the demands of social distancing differently. Some have transitioned to working from home, others are required to venture out each day to “essential” workplaces, and many are experiencing unemployment.

We took to the streets (while maintaining a 6-foot distance) to ask Chicago residents about their “new normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s what they had to say:

Ricardo Davila of the West Loop. | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Ricardo Davila, engineer

“I’m an electrical engineer, we do the sign and planning of different facilities. I’ve been under self quarantine for the past couple of weeks which means I’ve been working from home. I typically do not do that. I avoid going outside at all costs but its a little bit hard to keep myself locked up all day. What I do is take moments like this to take a little break and go outside for a five minute, 10 minute walk. I keep myself away from people. I do not go to any public places where people could be and just keep some sort of healthy habits in my daily routine.”

“Me personally, I’m an extrovert. I like to be around people, to talk to people. I love to talk to people so it’s been tough but I’ve been trying to identify that and be like I need to have discipline.”

Jason of Logan Square. | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Jason, college student

“I think this is the first time I’ve left my house since probably two weeks. I think it’s important to keep practicing social distancing even when you are out. I’m trying to avoid visiting places and talking to other people. I’m sure my mental health has declined staying inside the last two weeks. It’s messing with my education. I haven’t been able to go to school in three weeks now.”

“I don’t even think things will really go back to normal, the way they were before this. It just changed the whole narrative for everything. It changed everything pretty much.”

Nycole Stoudt of Ukranian Village | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Nycole Stoudt, Service industry employee

“I work in the restaurant industry so we were kind of early on shut downs. I think everybody is a little nervous about what they are going to do to pay their bills, rent especially. We have zoom cocktail hours set up for later this evening to kind of bring everybody together and just say hi to each other.”

“The Sunday when Governor [J.B.] Pritzker announced restaurants and bars would be closing, that was a big moment for me where it’s like ok things are really going to change drastically and we all need to take the steps necessary to quell any further passing on of the virus to others. It’s boring but it’s not the worst thing in the world to have to stay in a little bit more.”

Karen and Richard Shapiro of the West Loop | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Karen and Richard Shapiro, retired

KS: “I’m 73 and he’s 76, we’re healthy. I don’t think about it. I kind of feel like by now if we don’t have it we’re all carriers. I don’t think there’s anybody who is not a carrier. I just use that mindset and be careful.”

RS: “I’m not concerned at all. There’s so many people they haven’t tested so they really don’t know how extensive this could be, but they’re getting there.”

KS: “We’ll get through it.”

Joanna Griffin of Calumet Park. | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Joanna Griffin, Healthcare worker

“Unfortunately I have to come out to defeat the battle and help the team out as much as possible. This is part of being in healthcare. For the team that I’m working for they are understaffed right now but everyone is just really trying to be optimistic and do the first thing first, making sure we take care of the patients.”

“I’ve been doing about five days a week and I’ve been going by METRA. The perfect thing about this is there aren’t too many people on the train. It’s not too bad. I had my concerns making sure they are clean on the trains. METRA is very good about that. I have no concerns about that, I know they’ve definitely been doing their part of safety first.”

Barry DeBois of Andersonville. | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Barry DeBois, Actor/Singer

“I was bartending between those things and then I quit my bartending job to start a theater gig and then that got canceled because all theater is being canceled at the moment. I still have to pay rent.”

“Basically I’m trying to take gigs where I’m keeping my distance from people but those are very limited jobs. I’ve talked to friends in the theater community and they’re doing different stuff. Some people are teaching english to people in China. There are a lot of remote teaching opportunities people have gotten into.”

“If I’m not working in theater I’m working in the service industry and both of those are demolished right now. So I don’t know when I’m going to make normal money again which is kind of scary. We just moved into this new, beautiful apartment.”

Tamas Vilaghy of Edgewater. | Annie Costabile/Sun-TimesAnnie Costabile

Tamas Vilaghy, Service industry employee

“I work at a wine shop and there was a bar component which has shut we’re figuring out if we can do take out and carry out and delivery. The wine shop has remained open so that’s giving me a little bit of income.”

“I live with my wife so it’s nice to have someone there. We take a walk at night but that’s about it. She’s a musician so all of her gigs have dried up. She’s trying to teach over zoom right now but it’s uncertain as well whether or not that can continue. The teachers I know are at a loss about this too.”