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International Story Project

People from various countries, you are invited to share a story about an experience you have/had, or the experience someone you know has/had, because of COVID-19. I wish to give readers an inside view of lives affected by COVID-19 in a variety of countries.

Most of us are able to see and hear numerous accounts from political and well-known people on TV, radio, and in written media. This project is to give voice to ordinary citizens of the world as we learn how to live with a "new normal" that continues to evolve.

Will you provide a story to be considered for this project? You may include photographs, art images, or illustrations that are your own, or are free to use without copyright restrictions. If you would like to write a story and remain anonymous, that will be fine.

Many of us have something of value to share, something others will appreciate hearing. I hope you will consider being part of this project. Please send me an email for more information.

Thank you, Donna


Bob McFarland
California, USA

Bob McFarland & Ken Bingham

Our dear friend guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Bob McFarland shares his new song "Tears In Our Eyes" with us. Tragically, Bob's sister died in February 2020, before Americans were being diagnosed with COVID-19. Her symptoms were consistent with the virus and Bob believes she succumbed to COVID-19. Pianist/Bassist Ken Bingham accompanies Bob on this heartfelt recording. We share this song with the hope that it will help to comfort all who hear it. Our love is with the whole world at this devastating time of great suffering and loss of life.

Tears In Our Eyes
By Bob McFarland
© All Rights Reserved 04-18-20


Table of Contents
(More Stories & Countries To Be Added)


Note From D.B. Pacini-Christensen: I did not personally author some of the sentences in the researched "Information" and text. The text is being shared free-of-charge for teaching purposes to advance education for people. Portions of the text may contain copyrighted materials that have not been authorized for use from the copyright owners. No infringement is intended. The majority of this information was obtained from online sources. Several sources provided identical or similar information. Many of the sources urged free-use sharing. Some of this text was taken from online Wikipeda and online Encyclopaedia Britannica. This constitutes "fair use" of the text as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material here is distributed without profit. (The spelling "Encyclopaedia" is Latin for British Encyclopaedia.)



Table of Contents
(More Stories & States To Be Added)



Alabama, USA

Donna Hovey - Photographer

Donna Hovey
Alabama, USA

08-17-20: The year started out great for me, and overnight it was like the world shut down. I own a talent agency in Southeast, USA, and all production stopped immediately. After a week of feeling stunned, drinking wine, and eating chocolate, I started thinking of all the things I have time to do and to be grateful. Every day is a gift, and none of us are promised tomorrow. Since March I have certified in CPR, taken an online course to get my personal trainer certification, enjoyed photographing flowers in bloom, my boyfriend and I worked on our ebay hobby/business, signed up for a 350 mile virtual running challenge, and held free online acting classes with my agency talent.

Instead of looking at all of the negatives, I have been focusing on the positives. I am so proud of my industry and the steps they are taking to get back to business in a safe way. Industry leaders have shown that people matter more than money.

I have seen so much good. People checking on neighbors, making cards for nursing home residents, and sewing masks. We have been reminded what is really important in life, and that is each other. The simple life really is the best life.

Donna Hovey


California, USA

Tim Christensen
California, USA

06-17-20: COVID-19 has affected almost everyone in one way or another. Its effects have been negative for many, but some positive things have been realized by some. We can never make up for the tragic unnecessary loss of human life that the virus is responsible for taking. However, some positive effects have occurred from people taking this time to evaluate their lives more deeply. They have taken the time to do things that they may not have had time to do before all this.

Our governmental response to this crisis has been dismal at best and criminal at worst. They dropped the ball. Many thousands of deaths could have been prevented had our government been prepared and taken mitigating steps early on. But our leadership was more interested in trying to figure out how to down-play the seriousness of what was happening instead of trying to figure out how to come together in an effort to meet the virus head on and defeat it. While all this has been going on, each of us has been left to try to find our way.

I am a retired high school teacher. I taught primarily English, but I also taught various computer related classes as well. I've been retired a little over ten years. After retiring I started a second career or avocation stemming from my love of music. Since I was a child, I've always loved music. My wife Donna and I ran a music showcase for over twelve years in our local community. We also have been performing in retirement homes, assisted living, and nursing homes for about twelve years as well. I play guitar and sing, and Donna sings. We sing standards of country, folk, and popular music, mostly older music that people in retirement homes would remember and cherish. We have been doing about twelve to fourteen performances per month. This work has been very fulfilling, our music has touched these people deeply who often have little or no contact with people outside their facilities.

COVID-19 has put a stop to all that. As you know, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, retirement homes - all have been prohibited from having outside people, unessential workers of any kind, come into their facilities. The older population is very vulnerable to this disease, and they must be protected.

Now, with having to stay home and isolate, Donna has busied herself with writing projects, and I have been helping her with website projects. I have been closely following the news each day, which can be depressing. But one positive thing I have been doing is recording music, most of which I've been playing for years. Some of the recordings have been video, and some have been audio. A friend of mine started a couple of share sites to post our recordings and share them with each other since we can no longer get together and play. It's been fun to see what each of us come up with, and it's forced me to record, which is one of those things I always meant to get around to but never did. We all want to get back to being together again in the flesh, but for now, this sharing of our music online has been nice.

The hardest part of this whole thing we're going through is the sadness of it all for those who have lost someone or suffered from the virus and survived. We all miss our families and friends that we can't see right now, but the people who have lost loved ones permanently will never be able to see them again in this world. The economy will eventually recover. The virus will some day be defeated with a vaccine. But people who have been taken by COVID-19 will not return.

If you wish to hear some of my songs, please visit this section of our website to see three video recordings that I wrote for my granddaughters.

Be the solution,
Tim Christensen


Robert Evans
California, USA

06-17-20 17: My friend Donna asked people to share stories about a personal experience, or the experience someone they know has had, because of COVID-19. Well, I have nothing personal to share except this. As the number of American people getting COVID-19 increases, it is clear to me that the American economy is more important than what is viewed as a few deaths. I hope those "few deaths" will not include my family members, my friends, or me.

Stay Well,
Robert Evans


D.B. Pacini-Christensen
California, USA

06-19-20: California was one of the first U.S. states to do a serious COVID-19 shutdown. We later learned that COVID-19 was in America much earlier than initially thought. In March 2020 my husband Tim and I decided to self-isolate at home. We ceased visiting with family and friends. The creative arts events we were associated with were cancelled and remain cancelled.

Testing has improved, but America still does not have enough testing or enough contact tracing for COVID-19. It is pathetic how few tests are available, especially for nursing home personnel, nursing home residents, and people of color. Also, our states do not have consistent messaging or similar plans to battle this pandemic.

When COVID-19 first started ravaging the United States, our federal government forced state governors to compete for supplies while a staggering number of our amazing doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers lives were at great risk because they did not have enough (PPE) personal protective equipment. Many states still have shortages of masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators, and other life protecting and life saving supplies.

Our federal government is unwilling to fully invoke the Defense Production Act so this crucial problem could be resolved, in spite of the fact that most states have not completed their "first wave" stage. Our inevitable "second wave" will be predictably impacted by this avoidable problem.

The Defense Production Act gives the federal government the power to direct private businesses to produce essential items for a national emergency.

In America it feels like we have entered Rod Serling's surreal "Twilight Zone" - we are trapped in a distorted reality TV show episode with amateurish actors playing the role of our federal government.

Many in our federal government have a cavalier attitude about COVID-19. Their message seems to be that this pandemic is "magically" over, facemasks aren't needed, and social distancing is unnecessary. When I watch TV and see large numbers of American citizens also behaving like COVID-19 does not concern them, I am stunned.

COVID-19 is not taking a pause as the majority of states are reopening with safety procedures being inconsistently implemented. Many people are not taking precautions. They underestimate their risks and the exposure they can give to others who are more vulnerable.

In spite of the typical flood of fabricated and false information from conspiracy theories, and misinformation in general, our infectious disease specialists, scientists, and epidemiologists say drastic measures are necessary to minimize the COVID-19 impact. Since Memorial Day (05-25-20) many U.S. citizens have not worn facemasks or practiced social distancing. Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 is on an upward climb in several states.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington updated their predictions and now report that there will be 200,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 by October 1st. Some medical professionals believe the death toll could be higher. The reason for the update: Americans have increased their mobility during and after Memorial Day weekend, we have sizeable gatherings in some states without facemasks and social distancing, and we have large, prolonged gatherings at protest demonstrations.

COVID-19 is enormously politicized in America, but it infects across the political spectrum, it has no boundaries worldwide, and it does not discriminate.

The Lancet is a respected weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is among the world's oldest and best-known medical journals. The Lancet measured the usefulness of facemasks, social distancing, and eye protection. Their study determined that without a facemask, social distancing, or any other preventive measures, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is 17.4 percent.

Some people think that 17.4 percent is relatively low. I ask this: Imagine that I have a bowl of 100 jellybeans. I offer them to you, but I admit that 17 of them could make you ill, and they may kill you. Would you eat any of the jellybeans?

I recently read, "If you hate wearing a facemask, you really won't like wearing a ventilator." That statement breaks my heart. Before we get a vaccine, many people will eat the damn jellybeans. Unfortunately, some will die.

On 02-23-20, National Security Council Advisor Peter Navarro sent a memo to Trump warning that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in a loss of life as high as 1.2 million American souls. The next day Trump tweeted, "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA."

As of 06-19-20, (almost four months after 02-23-20) the U.S. has had more than 2,297,000 COVID-19 cases, more than 1,219,000 active cases, and more than 121,000 related deaths, according to Worldometer. Worldometer was voted as one of the best free reference websites by the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. Scroll down on their web-page to review Worldometer's updated COVID-19 statistics, per country. They update their statistics each day.

As of 06-19-20, twenty-three states have an alarming upward surge in record-high new cases and increased hospitalizations. It is currently believed that Florida will likely be the next U.S. COVID-19 epicenter with catastrophic consequences. Twenty-three states equal almost one-half of our country, yet our federal government continues to insist that COVID-19 is dying out in the U.S.


"One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are -- for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable -- they just don't believe science and they don't believe authority."

Dr. Anthony Fauci
U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Podcast
(The Learning Curve 06-17-20 episode.)


Because Tim and I are retired, and because we do not have children in our home, it is easier for us to physically and financially cope with isolating. We miss our family and friends, but we believe that it is not time to stop social distancing. Tim has been recording a great deal of music since March. I have done writing and other artistic projects.

Three winters ago I had pneumonia. Each breath I took was excruciating. I was terrified. My harrowing pneumonia experience triggers an increased fear of COVID-19 for me. However, COVID-19's deadliness amplifies my fear too.

In America we desperately need two vaccines, one for COVID-19 and one for our epidemic of racism. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is the first African American woman elected to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

In the wake of George Floyd's tragic murder she says it is not enough for white people to say they are not racists. She says white people need to be anti-racist and need to intentionally, deliberately, and unapologetically help dismantle structural racism and systemic oppression. That means not being afraid to call it what it is: white supremacy. I agree 100 percent.

We have a front row seat as history is being documented before our eyes. Our dangerous and incompetent federal government will have a devastating account recorded in future history books that will be well-deserved.

In spite of our federal government, we each can individually do something to help our frontline workers, who are indeed our heroes during this COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of our federal government, we each can individually do something to dismantle racism.

When my grandchildren and great-grandchildren read what will be recorded in future history books, I want them to know that I was not apathetic or passive. I want them to know I diligently did my part to constructively battle COVID-19 and racism. I want to inspire them to always do their part to protect and defend the health and the rights of all people.

Today is Juneteenth Day, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation Day. It is a very important holiday celebrating the liberation of those who had been held as slaves in the United States.

Thank you for reading my story. Take care and please stay safe.
D.B. Pacini-Christensen


California, USA

07-10-20: The coronavirus means isolation to me ....... no hugging, no shaking hands, not seeing family or friends. It makes you feel like a leper. Maybe you look like no one wants to associate with you. I love my peace and quiet times, but if you can't see family or friends or hold hands or hug, then life seems to stand still. When I read the bible or think of the bible study classes that I used to facilitate, it brings back to me what Jesus went through before they crucified him. He was all alone and even his trusted friend sold him for some silver coins. Money is something we need for buying food, paying rent, buying transportation ....... these are all immediate needs ....... life is short ....... heaven or hell are forever. Being healthy and happy are gifts. I hope someday to fly with the Angels ....... God gives us many trials in life ....... I pray I make the right decisions and learn to fly.

May God bless and protect you from the coronavirus,
Ann Clark Vanderheiden

***** ********


Donald R. Anderson
California, USA


Joe Weed
California, USA

Howard Rains - Artist

08-07-20: I'm Joe Weed, musician, composer, and producer in the Bay Area in Northern California. Since March of 2020, I haven't had anyone in the studio, due to the isolation required for avoiding COVID-19. So, in addition to missing the wonderful interactions from working with others, my income has been severely impacted. But like many musicians, I'm still writing, practicing, and recording. In late June I released this collaboration with 31 other musicians around the planet performing my "Waltz Violindo." Its message of inclusion and mutual support has clearly struck a note with the over 22,000 viewers that watched "Waltz Violindo" on YouTube and Facebook as of 08-07-20.


Michigan, USA

Jill Wellington
Michigan, USA


New York, USA

NYC, New York, USA

COVID-19 & The Holocaust
By An Anonymous Jewish Person

06-19-20: A couple of years ago I heard on television that a lot of people in European countries, Canada, and America had never heard of the Holocaust, 1941-1945. A large number of young people did not know what Auschwitz was. They could not name one Holocaust concentration camp.

Regardless of your age or your country, if you don't know much about the Holocaust, I think you should take time to study what happened and why it happened. One third of the world's Jewish population was murdered and more than one million were children.

COVID-19 may take millions of innocent lives. I know they say young people won't die from COVID-19 as easily as old people, but don't be fooled, young people will die too.

1945 was seventy-five years ago. In seventy-five years a large number of people may not know much about COVID-19. They may not know what happened and why it happened.

I know what the Holocaust did to Jewish people. I also know what COVID-19 will do to the world. Even people who are trying very hard to be careful can get COVID-19. But, too many people cannot tolerate having to be cooped up at home away from their friends. They don't want to wear facemasks or to stay six feet away from others. Many people have died and more will die because scores of people will not do the right thing to fight this pandemic.


Oregon, USA

My COVID-19 Story
Oregon, USA

07-23-20: I was prepared because I knew it would happen eventually. I came out of a store with my mask on after being very careful to keep my distance for at least six feet from everyone. I unloaded my cart to my car while still wearing my mask. A woman parked next to me and got out of her car with no mask on. She smirked and said, "Let me guess - you're a liberal. That mask ain't gonna do anything for you except make you look stupid."

I walked close to her, took off my mask, and said face-to-face, "Look, I woke up with a temperature of 103 this morning, my best friend came down with COVID-19 and was hospitalized yesterday, I work with people in close quarters, I had to go shopping today, and my mask is to protect people from me, not to protect me from them."

Then I coughed in her face, pretended to get dizzy, and slumped down to the ground. Horrified, she started to walk away. I grabbed her foot and then pulled her leg, like I am pulling yours.



Table of Contents
(More States To Be Added)



New South Wales, Australia

Robert Fairhead
New South Wales, Australia

08-13-20: Australia wasn't alone in underestimating the threat of coronavirus and COVID-19. In our defence, the country was distracted by the Black Summer bushfires, which blazed from September 2019 to March 2020. However, by mid-March, with the fires extinguished, our focus shifted to the pandemic and its possible impact.

Coincidentally, in mid-March, I flew to Darwin to watch my nephew play in the Tiwi Islands Aussie Rules Football grand final. It was a spur of the moment (pre-COVID lockdown) decision. I'm an Aussie Rules fan, and my nephew was playing in back-to-back finals for the 2019 premiers, the Ranku Eagles.

In 2019, I had followed the game via quarter-time posts on Facebook. And this year, I was proud and excited at the prospect of cheering for my nephew's team at the ground! I arrived in the Top End capital on the Friday before the final and had an overnight stay at an airport hotel before the short flight to the Tiwi Islands on Saturday.

During Friday, COVID-19 featured more and more on the news and in my social media feeds, with grim predictions about its spread. Of particular local concern was the catastrophic effect coronavirus could have on Indigenous communities, who already suffer high rates of health issues.

So, it wasn't a surprise the next morning to be greeted with the news that the Tiwi Islands had banned tourists due to fears over COVID-19. I had travelled 3000 kilometres from Sydney to Darwin. But I couldn't fly the extra 100 kilometres to attend the footy final.

Of course, I was disappointed, but I was also determined to be philosophical about it. I still watched the Ranku Eagles (and my nephew!) win the grand final, via live-stream on my laptop in my hotel room.

And, with unplanned time on my hands, I did a little sight-seeing in Darwin and further afield. And, with none of the interruptions of home life, I did a lot of writing on my hotel balcony.

Outside, it was hot and humid and felt like working in a steam room until afternoon thunderstorms broke and cooled things down. But I preferred sweating over my laptop on the balcony, Hemingway-esque, to writing in my air-conditioned room.

It proved productive, too, and I wrote a blog post, Syria: We Can't Say We Didn't Know, based on a book by former ABC Middle East Correspondent, Sophie McNeill.

After the weekend in Darwin, events moved swiftly with COVID-19 restrictions in Australia. Lockdowns came into force, and businesses shut down. International and state and territory borders were closed. Self-isolation and social distancing became part of our everyday vernacular and life. Those who still had jobs worked from home, and kids started homeschooling. Like elsewhere in the world, the end of March in Australia looked and felt nothing like the start of March.

As a writer, I'm used to self-isolation, social distancing and working from home. But I still felt a degree of anxiety and depression during the early days of the lockdown. There were no more get-togethers with family or friends. My favourite sport, AFL, postponed the 2020 footy season indefinitely, and other weekend activities, like my dog club, were cancelled.

To beat the blues, I did what I had done in Darwin and threw myself into writing. The first full weekend of lockdown in Sydney fell on the first weekend of April. And on the first weekend of every month, the Australian Writers' Centre runs a #FuriousFiction short story writing competition. In a weekend of "firsts", I wrote and submitted my first #FuriousFiction story, A Song on the Radio.

In April, I also wrote a blog post, Reworking Both Sides, on the backstory behind my collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (Amazon). And in April and into May, I updated the look and feel of the Tall And True website and blogged about the milestone in Tall And True - A New Chapter.

On the first weekend of May, I wrote a blog post about writing for the April #FuriousFiction. And I submitted a second short story, Five Meet on Zoom. As I said in the post:

When I clicked the big red SUBMIT button with one hour left on the deadline clock, my mind felt ready to explode from all the creative energy flowing through it.

My writing during this period left no space in my mind to think (or stress!) about COVID-19 and lockdown.

It's six months since my spur-of-the-moment trip to Darwin to watch my nephew play football. Australia's borders remain closed, and COVID-19 remains an ever-present threat. In early August, our second-most populous state, Victoria, declared a state of disaster after a second wave of the virus forced stricter lockdowns and a curfew.

On the first weekend of August 2020, I submitted my fifth entry to the Writers' Centre's #FuriousFiction, A Splendid View. Since May, I've set my short stories in a coronavirus affected world. This time, for a (hoped for!) change, I made the setting post-COVID.

I haven't learned another language or to bake bread or make face masks during the COVID lockdown. But writing - short stories, blog posts, and articles - has helped me cope. And when I hear of people struggling with social isolation, I'm thankful for my writing.

Though like everyone else, I'll be happy to see the back of this wretched virus, too!

Stay Safe,
Robert Fairhead

Share Your Writing on Tall And True
(Showcase and forum for writers, readers and publishers.)


South Australia, Australia

Sylvia Anders
South Australia, Australia

05-26-20: Greetings to you from the state of South Australia! We are currently COVID-19 free. Our last COVID-19 case left hospital on Friday 22nd May 2020. On 26th May, a new case was identified. It was the first new case in South Australia in 19 days.

A lot of teamwork went into getting us to this point. When COVID-19 reached Australia's shores, a command centre was quickly physically built here in South Australia, where key South Australian health officials and other key decision makers could come together daily, monitor the crisis, make day-by-day decisions, and hold media conferences.

Our Department of Health IT Section was inundated with all kinds of requests, such as enabling people to work from home, granting access to additional hospital staff, and setting up shared mailboxes and email distribution lists to facilitate communication specifically relating to COVID-19. I myself was one of the first IT staff members to work from home.

The government TV channel, and our major newspaper here in South Australia, provided daily updates, including the number of active COVID-19 cases, clusters of where they were occurring, and what kind of restrictions were in place for all of us.

At Easter time, everyone received a message on their mobile phones from the government stating, "Stay at Home This Easter and Save Lives." This message went to all phones, regardless of the service providers.

We have lovely weather here at Easter time and it is tradition for many families to go camping. However, because of social distancing requirements, this Easter we were encouraged to stay home.

On ANZAC Day, when Australians and New Zealanders nowadays usually hold a dawn ceremony at a war memorial to commemorate casualties of wars and conflicts, our social distancing rules meant that people stood in their driveways at dawn instead and watched a ceremony online. I took this photograph of the dramatic atmosphere that morning.

Sylvia Anders, Photographer

Schools shut early and before scheduled holidays, but only for a while. When it was discovered that children rarely infect one another with COVID-19, schools were reopened. Attendance was optional for those who wanted to go back to classrooms rather than continue with home schooling.

Our government has been very supportive during this time, providing money to senior citizens so they could spend it and help stimulate the economy, and providing money to business owners who had to close their businesses so the owners could continue to pay their employees. Now there are plans for additional stimulus packages to help speed economic recovery.

I think having health officials leading the way with decisions regarding necessary restrictions, having our government support and value our health officials, and having our government provide economic stimulus packages has given South Australians confidence and has motivated us to respect the restrictions.

Only now are there calls for restrictions to be lifted so Australian football can be played, although the audience will only be viewing games from home. Also, there are calls for our pubs to be reopened.

I have heard of complaints in some other countries that the restrictions were unnecessary and a threat to democracy. Yet, here we are used to quarantines. For example, it is illegal to bring fruit into South Australia from other states, because it can contain fruit fly. We are dealing with an outbreak right now from fruit that was brought in illegally. This little fly can devastate a whole industry.

As in other countries, there has been a lot of panic buying in the beginning of COVID-19. Tissues, toilet paper, sugar, flour, pasta, hand sanitizer, soap, facial masks - all were in short supply in the beginning with some people even driving for an hour or more out of the city and into the country to purchase these items. Now things are more normal again and these items are back on the shelves, although future shortages may occur.

Here are lyrics to a song I wish to include with this story. I wrote the song years ago.

Simple Things
By Sylvia Anders
© All Rights Reserved

Dearest children, what can you see
A beautiful garden or a tall strong tree;
A mountain peak that is ever so high;
Or a shimmering lake, that's reflecting the sky?

Dearest Children, what can you hear,
An owl in the night, hooting loud and clear;
The rustling of leaves as a lizard darts by;
Wind among the pines or a seabird's cry?

Dearest children, can you smell scents sublime
Have your hands brushed through mint, rosemary or thyme?
Are there sweet-scented flowers nearby?
Yet what shall we do when things go awry?

For there will be times for all of us when
Life will not be easy and then
May we find new strength in such simple things:
A sunset that glows or a bird that sings,
The delicate beauty of butterfly wings
And the peace in our hearts that kindness brings.

Strength can be found in the simplest ways
May love and nature, bring strength to your days.
So when things go wrong, please remember this song
And seek simple things that will help you be strong.
Seek simple things that will help you be strong.

Simple Things

Lyrics by Sylvia Anders
Music By Tim Christensen
© All Rights Reserved

Through my workplace, I recently learned that there is an astonishing 90 percent drop in influenza (flu) cases this year compared to the same time last year. I'm sure social distancing and the focus on hand washing hygiene has helped, as has the focus on cough and sneeze etiquette.

Wishing you all the best,
Sylvia Anders



Daniel Gumiero

Daniel Gumiero - Illustrator

06-23-20: Greetings to everyone from Brazil. I am happy to contribute a story to this project. My name is Daniel Gumiero. I am a Brazilian, vegan, photographer, and designer. I am passionate about nature and art. I also do my best to help cure the planet. Six years ago my father died because of another global pandemic (H1N1) after 34 days of bravely fighting for his life in the hospital. My heart and soul were destroyed, but I keep myself strong to give peace and support to my mother and brother. Since COVID-19 first started in China, I began a diligent personal effort to alert family, friends, people in my community, people on social media, and the authorities about the deadly risks of this virus. I did my best, but my earnest efforts were not enough to help my country avoid the devastation it endures because of COVID-19. I will keep doing my best to fight against COVID-19. I hope I can help people around the world understand that we must join together to battle this pandemic. We are in this together - all across the globe. On Pixabay I share my portfolio for free. The donations I receive on Pixabay are used to purchase basic food and essentials for poor families in Brazil. I won't give up. None of us should. We all can do something, and we all must. Thank you.


Silvana Andrade

Maria Albani
(Silvana Andrade's Mother)

07-15-20: I said goodbye to Mom, physically, believing she had pneumonia - she had a fever, shortness of breath, and body aches. I remember her getting on the elevator and me saying, "Mom, I love you. Don't worry; it'll be all right."

When people contract the COVID-19 virus, they leave their homes and often go into a black hole. I spent three days without being able to obtain information. I didn't even know which Hospital's ICU she was in or the name of the doctor who was taking care of her.

After countless attempts to make contact, I finally managed to speak to the ICU doctor. He told me my mother had been intubated without me being consulted. This had been approved because she was lucid. According to him, my mother had authorized her own intubation. She was sedated and put into an induced coma. I started calling every day.

We had lost my father a month earlier. Mom and Dad were glued together; you have no idea. In the past year she had four femur surgeries - in each of them, the stems and prostheses moved out of place. Damn doctor! My father stayed by my mother's side the entire time, even when she was convalescing in bed, until she had two urinary infections and had to return to the hospital in February. Dad became sicker and sicker, and then he died. Mom was hospitalized and learned of his death two weeks later. When she was finally discharged and returned home, she kept asking repeatedly, "Why did he leave me alone?"

When I was young, the slightest idea about the possibility of my parents dying would make me lose my breath. Look now, I lost them both at the same time. I can't explain the amount of pain I feel, but I assure you that my grief has been eased a bit because we have managed to secure a bill project. Now, it needs to be voted on by the Congress.

In April 2020, the Health Department of the State of Pernambuco had access to the statement I had made on my Facebook page, and they turned my idea of a bill project into a public program. In public health units in the state, visits via video calls have become a reality through this bill. I want people to be afforded the decency of being allowed a farewell with their loved ones. They deserve that opportunity. We all deserve that opportunity.

I thought of this when my mom's doctor, after 15 days, told me that her condition had worsened significantly. The next day, when I called to ask the doctor about how my mother was, a nurse told me he was not in the hospital. I would need to wait for him to return to receive any news about my mother. I asked the nurse to take the phone to my mom.

"It's impossible, ma'am," was the nurse's reply. She told me that she was not authorized to enter the ICU with a phone. I suggested that it didn't need to be a personal phone. It could be a tablet or some type of corporate device. Again, she said that would be impossible. I collapsed.

I felt all the pain a person could personally feel, but I also felt the collective pain of the world, the anguish all family members and friends feel who are experiencing separation from their loved ones because of COVID-19. It is a devastating and shared universal grief that washes over those of us who are denied our humanitarian right to say goodbye to our loved ones. It is the shock and confusion people experience when they don't even know that they should always have this basic right.

I broke down into tears with a sorrow that you cannot imagine. I called the nurse repeatedly, pleading to be allowed to speak with my mother. My requests we denied. I told her that she did not understand. I told her I would go to whatever lengths necessary to be able to speak with my mother. I told her that being denied this opportunity was beyond cruelty.

I was not informed that my mother had died. After her death a nurse called and asked for my mom's documents. I was stunned and bewildered. I said, "What? What do you mean? What are you saying? Did my mother die?"

The nurse replied, "I don't know, you'll have to ask the doctor." Can you imagine hearing something like that? I called the doctor, and he confirmed that my mother had died.

I believe we eperience two different states of anguish. The first and immediate is loss by disappearance. The person you love simply disappears - they are gone. One day, they are by your side and then suddenly, they are no longer present. You can never see them again. It is utter disappearance. Can you imagine the depth of this instant pain? My emotions were raw.

Despite the pain I was enduring, I was relieved that because of my persistent efforts, I had been able to finally speak with my mother for about fifteen minutes two days before she died. I could look at her. I could see her. I said what I wished to say to her even though she was unconscious, sedated, and intubated. Perhaps she was able to hear me.

The opportunity to speak with my mother made all the difference in the world for me. It helped me more than words can express. For her, in memoriam, I decided to dedicate myself to fight for this bill. If approved, guess what it will be called? It will be the Maria Albani Law - in my mother's honor.

The second state of anguish is dealing with the death of someone you love. It is an acceptance of anguish when you are still heartbroken, but you understand that your loved one is gone, and you must learn to carry on without them.

What I want is a protocol that will be instituted in a systematic way, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but at all times for any patient with a contagious disease that requires him or her to be isolated from their loved ones. People should have the opportunity to speak with these patients via video calls. This opportunity should be available to immediate family members and also to family and friends regardless of where those people may be. We must compassionately humanize the end-of-life time for everyone.

My mother had a unique joy for life that was greater than any passion for life that I have ever seen. I know she would want this opportunity provided to all people, and she would be humbly honored to have this bill in her name.

Stay Safe,
Silvana Andrade




07-27-20: I recently learned about this story project and would like to share my story. I am 17. My parents are in the medical profession. They have told me things that I will not repeat because they are too heartbreaking to put into written words. People who have COVID-19 suffer so much. They are all ages, not just old people who are forty and older. Some are much younger. My parents are strict with my brother who is 12. He has asthma, and they will not allow him to visit with any of his friends. I am allowed to see my cousin because she is my age and because she is not seeing anyone else. This is serious. It has changed the whole world. My grandparents say that never in their lives has anything been so bad. I am young, and I can say the same thing. I don't know when this will end and when we can live our lives again. Thank you for letting teens write stories for this project.

Take Care,



Jacques Gaimard

Jacques Gaimard - Photographer

I took this photograph in April 2020 in Paris. The location is the famous Place du Tertre in Montmartre. It is usually overcrowded with tourists from all over the world, even on rainy winter days. During our COVID-19 "stay-at-home" period Place du Tertre was absolutely deserted as never seen before, not even throughout the Nazi occupation during WWII. Numerous painters and sketch artists come here to paint and to draw portraits.

The Day The Earth Stood Still

08-23-20: When I learned a new epidemic had broken out in China, I wasn't too surprised. I knew the plague, the Spanish flu, and SARS, were undesired gifts from the Middle Kingdom to the depraved and decadent western countries. This novel coronavirus (COVID-19) would not be an exception.

However, I was surprised that swift and adequate measures to curb the evil epidemic were not taken immediately! My country suffered from SARS a few years ago and was traumatized by it.

COVID-19 made me furious with genuine rage! As much as the Chinese seem to "accept" being brainwashed since 1949 and the advent of communism, and as much as they had been terrorized by respiratory diseases, why didn't they close their borders completely - as only an authoritarian regime would dare to do - so that the quarantine would be mandatory for anyone leaving or entering their country?

Too late! COVID-19 struck Italy. We, French, were filled with a somewhat hypocritical compassion for our Latin cousin-neighbors (we are only half-Latin) and then, COVID-19 (at least we hoped) had no chance of crossing our border without valid documents!

Unfortunately, extremely unfortunately, when the first COVID-19 clusters were identified here and there in France, all our efforts to circumscribe the disease proved to be in vain. The initial cases increased, the first frightening hospitalizations stunned us, the desperate resuscitation attempts overcame us, and then tragic deaths devastated us.

Some of us could still convince ourselves that, after all, COVID-19 was only occurring in the provinces. We had time to avoid it. This inaccurate assurance proved to be short-lived.

Yes, China eventually confined millions of its people with aggressive authoritarianism. But, compliance from those whom we considered to be obedient and controlled did not surprise us.

A simple proposal of a mandatory "Stay-at-Home" period being issued to France, kindly, and with the greatest humanity possible, did not occur to us! Few of us imagined that freedom loving French people would be asked to tolerate being confined to his or her home!

Big mistake! When Emmanuel Macron, our young president, seriously announced one evening on TV, in front of a record-breaking audience, that France was to undergo a mandatory three-week "Stay-at-Home" requirement, the ground sank beneath our feet!

Three weeks restricted in our homes doing nothing? Three weeks of being required to secure a "Permission to Leave" exemption with our names, addresses, and times of exit, which was limited to one hour and a radius of one kilometer surrounding our homes?

It was dreadful, especially for people who live in small apartments in Paris. A limited number of food shops were open. All parks and gardens were closed. It was a nightmare!

The police, very zealous, diligently checked exit permits. This reminded the oldest among us of the period of Nazi occupation during the Second World War: "Ausweis bitte! Schnell! Papier, bitte! Danke schön! Actually, in terms of freedom of movement, it was a great deal worse than the German occupation; offenders were fined 135 euros (about 110 USD).

The "regulated" outings were no picnic. Between panting joggers who were possibly expelling COVID-19 in your face with their winded breath, and people who, when passing you on a street, did a wide swerve while clutching handkerchiefs tightly over their mouths to guard themselves from you - it was alarming! Anyone not wearing a mask had the same effect on these nearly hysterical people as a vampire under whose nose you shake a clove of garlic or bravely brandish a crucifix.

Streets were deserted. Most shops were closed, as were cafés, bars, and restaurants. In short, almost everything that enhances the life and the charm of a brilliant and musical city as exquisite and as glorious as Paris had come to a silent standstill. The heavy curtains were down. The magnificent play would not go on. Color was replaced with muted black and white.

I rarely heard or saw laughing and carefree children outside playing, let alone clusters of teenagers chatting while smoking cigarettes (or worse). During this extraordinary time, more than once I climbed to the famous Sacré-Coeur, in Montmartre, which is approximately one kilometer from my home. Astonished, I saw what few Frenchmen have ever seen: a closed Sacré-Coeur, an absolutely deserted Montmartre quarter! It was a distressing sight that will forever remain engraved in my memory.

Sometimes it felt as if I was on a stark film set in the middle-ages: a mysterious foreigner, on horseback, enters a humble village, a few alarmed inhabitants walking in the streets hurry to their homes, and shutters are quickly closed with a foreboding creaking.

It seemed that each of us were terrified that the other was infected with this pestilential COVID-19 disease. We looked at each other suspiciously, and often without saying a word. Few of us had surgical masks. Our hospitals, private clinics, and doctors were desperately short of masks and other needed supplies.

Many of those infected with COVID-19, and those who died, owed their suffering or demise to a scandalous lack of preparation, which caused a catastrophic shortage of medical (PPE) personal protective equipment: masks, gloves, gowns, face shields, hydro-alcoholic gel, etc.

Amazon had a total ban on selling these items to private individuals. There were thefts of masks from trucks or hospitals! However, although we lacked protection, we did not lack information, far from it. All televisions channels provided nearly continuous COVID-19 information, from morning to evening. Director General of Health, Jerome Salomon (our good Doctor Fauci) gave updates each afternoon. He also reported the grim number of people hospitalized, in intensive care, and even more tragically, the number of those who had perished.

Our government's policy was two-fold: scare people enough to convince them to comply with health instructions, and reassure people sufficiently to prevent collective hysteria. It was a delicate and difficult balance, but it enabled French people to completely support the utterly new and otherwise unbearable restrictive measures that were being required.

Every evening, at 8 p.m. we opened our windows to applaud and shout our gratitude to the medical staff. They were the ones on the frontlines exposing themselves to health risks while we were in the warmth of our homes watching TV.

Occasionally, I felt something like the recognized "Stockholm Syndrome," when hostages started supporting the cause of their captors. This made me smile, before COVID-19 nurses sometimes endured criticism for the quality of their work or for a perceived belief that some nurses had inadequate compassion for their patients. Now they were gallantly risking their lives for their patients. They were heroes.

I am an avid "outdoor man" who relishes nothing more than hiking outside of Paris in deserted forests or in depopulated country-sides. If weather does not permit that, I enjoy wandering though the city and visiting museums. The strict shutdown was particularly painful, and it also felt especially unfair to me. On a hike alone there would be absolutely no danger of me contaminating anyone, or of me becoming contaminated by anyone, but I was forbidden to take hikes.

Otherwise, I essentially did not change my lifestyle. I got up at around 5.30 a.m., and I used my computer until the evening. Of course, I pondered all sorts of questions about what we were going through. The whole planet had closed down because of COVID-19! That doesn't happen every day. There was a worldwide health crisis, a global economic catastrophe, no more cinema, theater, sports, cafés, restaurants, non-food shops, travel, tourism, socializing with family and friends, etc.

There was one thing, however, that curiously few people were talking about: our sex lives! At my age, staying celibate for a while wasn't the work of Hercules, but how were younger people dealing with this? It is difficult to imagine any satisfying romantic love relationship that requires social distancing. You keep a mask on (a face condom?) to kiss? I pitied the challenges young lovers were facing. Also, prostitutes, they probably had to switch to phone sex with their most faithful clients.

Also, what about those couples living in loveless marriages that were suddenly forced to remain home together without any opportunity to have time apart? When some wives were out doing essential errands were some husbands on their computers visiting porn sites? Did they carefully erase their browsing histories?

I confess, instead of only taking the one-hour that I was allowed to be outside, I sometimes "lost track of time" and enjoyed two-hour outings. This gave me five or six kilometers of Parisian "hiking", which, after all, was not so bad!

I was extremely surprised that I almost never saw anyone from my building in the elevator or in the street. It seemed that people all over Paris were locked inside their homes and rarely ventured out. This astonished me, but I understood that for a number of people the terror of COVID-19 was truly overwhelming. Some people had masks, most did not, and God knows we were tremendously well informed. I think we knew as much, and sometimes more, than many doctors because we were constantly updated!

Each day, during dedicated broadcasts, epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, virologists etc. informed us. All you had to do was type the letter "C" on your computer keyboard to immediately get a vast amount of information about "coronavirus" or COVID-19. I doubt that ever before in the history of medicine has so much accurate information, misleading/incorrect information, and sometimes even confidential information, been disclosed to the general public.

Children were rarely outside, and they did not go to school. I wondered how they could endure endless days inside apartments, without playing outside, without sunshine on their faces, without seeing their friends, without walking in public gardens with their mothers, etc. I would have probably gone crazy as a child if I had to tolerate that! It is good that we have Internet, and children can play online video games, etc.

The "Stay Home" confinement was extended by weeks, with the assurance that we could hopefully go on holiday this summer, and that our lives would (also hopefully) return to almost normal. We were eventually allowed to increase the distance that we could travel to a radius of 100 kilometers around our homes, and with no one-hour time limit, we finally had no time limits!

As soon as restrictions were lifted, I explored my belovéd city of Paris that I had been denied access to like a prisoner who was rediscovering a free environment after serving a long sentence. When I saw people wearing masks in the streets, and especially when I took the bus or the metro, it made me feel like I was in a gigantic hospital. There was something surreal about it. I sometimes resented constantly seeing masks; they reminded me of the still present danger of COVID-19 and the continued mistrust we had for one another.

I took the train early one morning for my first "post-confinement" hike. I left the train and walked hesitantly to the beautiful countryside around Paris. I happily burst into tears. Free! Free at last! I found my dear, my very dear friend "nature" waiting to greet me: flowers, birds, trees, and fresh early morning air that stings your nose and intoxicates you. A lazy sun ever so slowly rose in a blue sky as if it wanted to provide me leisure time to admire it. It would be a beautiful day. A day of freedom can only be beautiful.

As usual each year, with my girlfriend, I planned to go away for a summer month to a campsite in the south of France. I could not help but fear that this would not be possible this summer. My worry and suspense filled me until our government finally "freed" us from travel restrictions. The camping sites opened, and we spent a wonderful vacation together, almost as it normally was, in places isolated enough so that COVID-19 could not dampen our joy.

In conclusion, if I had to retain only one final image of the many experiences and tragic consequences of this unprecedented pandemic, it would be of an azure blue sky with only two or three planes soaring free with their trailing plumes of white smoke.

Thank you for reading my story. I wish good health and safety to you and your loved ones.

Jacques Gaimard
Paris, France



Sebastian Flegl

07-13-20: Hi, I live in a town near Munich in Germany. When the COVID-19 crisis started, the state Bavaria took action very fast. As a result, all pupils got more or less home-schooled for about three months. It was a very tough time to stay in one place for a quarter of a year. It was difficult to always have the same people around, and to have no chance to see friends for over 90 days.

Despite these negative aspects coming with the lock-down and the restrictions, I am glad they existed for health/safety reasons. While my family and I luckily stayed healthy, a friend of my mother lost her son and her husband. A patient of my father told him he wouldn't be able to come to the next appointment because he has to attend four COVID-19 funerals.

All in all, I have to thank all the nurses, doctors, and of course all the people who helped others in this devastating time.

Everyone stay safe,
Sebastian Flegl



Eszter Hornyai

06-18-20: When the pandemic of COVID-19 started in Hungary, I self-quarantined and set up a home office. After the fears of the first days, I realized that I had a lot of free time. What was I to do after work, cooking, and lots of bad news about COVID-19? Well, to start, I decided to do a "Big Clean Up" in my house!

I found a forgotten and hidden away cardboard box in a dark corner of a closet. It was full of my old photographs. Many years ago I was an enthusiastic professional photographer, but my life changed, and I gave up that profession. Of course, I continued to take photographs occasionally because I never lost my passion for photography.

When I opened the cardboard box, wonderful memories came flooding back. I immediately felt an irresistible yearning to embrace photography again.

I am concerned about COVID-19, but I am not paralyzed by fear. I am using the increased free time that I now have in a creative way that is encouraging me during self-isolation.

I now take pictures each day. Also, I created a Facebook page for my old and new photographs. If you wish, you can review my photographs on Facebook and also on Pixabay.

Here is a photograph of the cardboard box filled with photographs that I found in my closet. I hope that you can find creative ways to use free time that you may have during this pandemic.

Eszter Hornyai - Photographer

The first case in Hungary that a cesarean section was performed on a COVID-19 pregnant woman occurred on 06-18-20. The mother, infected with COVID-19, gave birth to her premature baby via cesarean section, with procedures to minimize the risk of the COVID-19 infection being transferred to the baby. After birth, both mother and child are in stable condition and the newborn did not become infected with COVID-19.

Be well and stay safe.

Warm Regards,
Eszter Hornyai

Joe Váradi
Budapest, Hungary

Gregg Yan - Photographer
(Wikimedia Commons - Free Use Photograph)

In July 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) scientists decided to go to China to investigate animal hosts for COVID-19, and to hopefully identify how COVID-19 jumps from animals to humans. The main focus is the supply chain of China's legal and illegal wildlife trade, wild and farmed animals, markets, storage, and hunting locations. Pangolins are found across southeast Asia. They are trafficked for their scales, which are typically used in Chinese medicine. The coronaviruses found in pangolins is too different to be a SARS-CoV-2's direct ancestor, but researchers say when and how pangolins become infected could provide clues about where SARS-CoV-2 originated.

Pangolins can be exposed to coronaviruses while being traded and then can become infected "incidental" hosts. Smuggled pangolins have been found with masked palm civets, an intermediate host of a virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, and with bat carcasses. Some researchers say WHO should also examine small carnivores and rodents, including bats, and investigations should include China's neighboring countries such as Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia that commonly have across the borders unhygienic wildlife trade. The WHO investigations could help build trust between the international community and researchers in China.

The Chinese pangolin is native to the northern Indian subcontinent, northern parts of Southeast Asia, and southern China. It has been listed as "Critically Endangered" on the IUCN Red List since 2014. The wild population is estimated to have declined by more than 80 percent in three pangolin generations, equal to 21 years. The Chinese pangolin has the appearance of a scaly anteater. It is threatened by poaching for the illegal wildlife trade.



Sonja Kalee

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

09-17-20: COVID-19 hit our country (the Netherlands) unexpectedly in March 2020 during Carnaval, a big event in the south region. It was there that we had our first patient. The provinces Brabant and Limburg had numerous infections, some (small) villages lost many people! A lot of seriously ill people were in intensive care for weeks. We did not know how to treat those patients at first. Our hardworking medical professionals had a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) and limited intensive care procedures to combat this unprecedented deadly virus. Many of our citizens had to be sent abroad to Germany.

Tragically, I lost two acquaintances that became exposed to COVID-19 during the time we were still working. One was listed as "victim number 6" when she died, so she was lost in the beginning of the epidemic. Her husband succumbed on the day she was to be buried. The date was changed so they could be buried together, as they always were.

Soon we had a lockdown to prevent more spreading. We had no total lockdown like some countries, ours was an 'intelligent lockdown' that lasted for months. Everybody stayed inside as much as possible, worked from home, and children were home schooled with computers. We kept 1.5-meter distance everywhere, frequently washed our hands, and cleaned shopping carts. The streets were empty. There were no traffic jams and the air was cleaner because planes were not flying.

When necessary, you could go outside, do shopping, or walk your dog. Many people started gardening or renovating their houses. Also, a good deterrent against the spread of COVID-19 was the fact that for several months many people did not go to work, sporting events, bars, restaurants, fitness centres, swimming pools, dog schools, festivals, hospitals, etc. Anything that could help to spread the virus was discouraged.

Shop openings were allowed but with safety measures in place, cleaned carts, a limited number of customers, and customers had to shop alone. Some shops did not bother to open, to do so would require additional work and they would have limited customers.

Numerous people in nursing homes (the elderly, handicapped, and mentally ill) became ill with COVID-19 because of limited protective equipment and insufficient precautionary measures. Sadly, it was necessary to keep these patients in strict isolation. They could not have visitors. They were alone even when they became critically ill and eventually died. As you can imagine, this was terrible for them, and of course they could not understand. So little was known about COVID-19. The virus was the worse universal pandemic in modern time, one that hopefully would never happen again!

Starting in June 2020 we slowly got some extra freedom and younger children returned to school in shifts. We were allowed to go outside more to walk or to ride bicycles for exercise and to enjoy the warmer weather. The woods, beaches, and nature areas were very popular and it became necessary to close some locations because of crowds.

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

In July 2020 restaurants and bars could carefully re-open. They were required to keep appropriate distances between customers and to serve people on outside terraces as much as possible. Also, customers had to make reservations.

In August 2020 we could go on vacation, mostly in our own country, and some people began to travel abroad. Unfortunately, a number of people began to relax their personal precautions. Tragically, some people proclaimed that COVID-19 did not really happen. They insisted that the virus was a lie created by the government.

It is autumn and winter is fast approaching. We now have a surge of new COVID-19 cases, especially in our larger cities; many of these cases are students living together in student-homes. Other new cases involve people who have attended weddings, funerals, parties, and other social events with family members and friends.

An alarming number of people seem to believe that they will not get COVID-19. They are traveling by plane and getting together with family members and friends as they wish. They do not have concern about their health or the health of those they come in contact with.

We have more and more infected people; many are young people who will not require being hospitalized. Most of these young people will not face death, but they can infect others.

Because of this recklessness, our neighbour country has declared the Netherlands orange and the two provinces North and South Holland (where the most infections are) red on the COVID-19 risk scale. So, after visiting our country you must be tested and you must quarantine for two weeks.

I hope this pandemic will not continue to get worse. It is a catastrophic universal disease. It does not care who you are, where you are, what your political affiliation is, what your race is, what your age is, etc. It is insidious, extremely contagious, and deadly. I keep my distance, frequently wash my hands, and stay mostly at home or in my garden. I have family in a nursing home and can visit after 2-5 month absences, but of course I must pass a health check per visit.

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

I have more time to work in my garden, to take photographs, and to walk with my dogs to quiet locations in the woods. I have a lot of free time because I cannot visit with family and friends, enjoy lectures, go to community gardens, etc.

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

It is as if nature has removed us from the hectic rat race we were living in. We now have more quality time to cherish, and the air is much cleaner with fewer airplanes polluting the skies.

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

But it is an economic disaster for many firms; countless people have lost jobs and homes because of lost income. The world has been overwhelmed in many ways and it will take a long time to recover from the devastation COVID-19 has done.

Sonja Kalee - Photographer

Everyone, please stay safe and be careful.

Sonja Kalee



Adrian Ivanov

07-29-20: Hello, my name is Adrian Ivanov. I do not have a photograph to accompany this story. Please use one of your own. I approve that. My wife would like a flower. She would be happy if you used a flower to offer hope. My story is not big, but it is my story. My family has not suffered from COVID-19 other than our being worried about it. We know families who have lost people to COVID-19. One woman we know lost two family members. Her grief has paralized her. Her soul has died from the grief. She will not eat, and she is in a difficult condition, very bad. Another person we know lost one uncle. No matter where you are in the world, you can be in danger. Until there is a vaccine, we must do our duty to not infect other people. I am sorry for everyone who is suffering. For those who are not suffering but are very worried, I am with you in heart. I do worry each day. Be wise until there is a vaccine. Then we can dance together and celebrate this tragedy finally ending.

Adrian Ivanov



Photograph Courtesy of Leyla


We Must Care About Others

08-25-20: COVID-19 has made little difference in our lives. My husband and I do not travel, my husband is retired, I work from home, and we rarely even go to Kiev. People here are going to shops less often, not walking in the botanical garden, or not going out in their yards very much. They wear masks; wash their hands more thoroughly, especially after being away from home. So far, thank God, none of our friends have gotten sick, so we know about COVID-19 mainly from the news.

Quarantine was introduced quite early in Ukraine, and besides that, at first they did few tests. In April-May 2020 there were relatively few cases or deaths. After the weakening of the quarantine, the number of cases increased dramatically. In June-July, 800-1100 people a day fell ill in Ukraine; then the number increased to 1300-1400. Today the increase is 2,100-2,300 people per day.

At the time, when the infection had already become known, but quarantine had not yet been introduced, no preventive measures were taken. Those entering our country from China were not quarantined. The one exception was a group of people evacuated from Wuhan.

We had to change the place of quarantine twice, because people blocked the road in protest - they were afraid that the people from Wuhan would bring COVID-19. In the end, it was decided to place them in a sanatorium in the village of Novye Sanzhary in the Poltava region. Doctors from Lviv sang the anthem of Ukraine when they learned that none of the Wuhan people were coming to them.

When the bus arrived in Novi Sanzhary, local residents blocked the road and crowded together for several hours, not allowing those who had arrived to get off the bus. Someone threw stones at the bus and broke the windows. The people on the bus were shocked by such a "warm" welcome from their compatriots. There were children on the bus. In the end, the police put things in order. The evacuees were delivered to a sanatorium, and for the local residents, Doctor Komarovsky gave an explanatory and a reassuring lecture, however, without due condemnation to the people who had protested the bus.

Dr. Komarovsky is known for writing books and recording videos with medical advice. During COVID-19, he recorded several videos explaining the infection to the public in detail and he answered people's questions.

Due to the riots, the Minister of Health decided to quarantine along with the evacuees from Wuhan. It turned out that everyone was healthy. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on television that he did not understand the behavior of local residents, since 7,000 people had already entered Ukraine without any quarantine. Later, they began to measure the temperature of those entering, and after a while, they called those people on their mobile phones to ask if they were feeling well.

Today, for those entering the country, it is mandatory either to pass a PCR test, or to self-isolate for two weeks with a control program on a smart-phone. If you don't answer the phone signals and don't take pictures of yourself, the police will come.

In March, quarantine was introduced. My birthday fell during this period. It was a very new, unusual, and actually fun experience. The photograph that I am sharing with this story, of me wearing a mask, is from then. Each day we read the news and studied what should and should not be done. At the very beginning it was scary, but then fear was replaced by unbridled fun. On Facebook, every now and then, people posted humorous pictures with a topical topic. In general, people were enjoying themselves in full, apparently, so as not to cry and not to be filled with fear.

In Ukraine, during quarantine, it was possible to go to the store, to work, and to walk pets. It was forbidden to walk for no specific reason. Some people were willing to visit parks, playgrounds, and sports facilities. It was forbidden for people over 60 years of age to go out. People were required to have an identification document with them.

You could only enter shops if you were wearing a mask. Quarantine violations were imposed, people not wearing masks received rather large fines. However, the court did not approve every fine, especially since the state did not provide people with everything necessary to fulfill their requirements. Masks were not provided.

By the way, masks and respirators have become a large deficit, and their prices have skyrocketed ten times and more. In addition, during the entire period of quarantine, I have not seen the police patrolling and checking if people are complying with the conditions of quarantine.

During the quarantine period, a previously planned medical reform was introduced, which cut the number of doctors, as well as the salaries of doctors. At the beginning of the quarantine, the government promised doctors a triple salary because of the danger of contracting COVID-19. In fact, the triple salary was given once only in one hospital in Kiev. The rest of the salaries were cut by 25 percent. In some hospitals, there were strikes against the reform, so the reform was canceled and postponed. But doctors still received reduced pay and some of the doctors resigned, especially because they did not want to risk their health for a smaller salary.

During the quarantine, many people lost their jobs and, taking advantage of the situation, some employers cut the salaries of their workers. My friend works at a pharmacy. Despite the fact that she runs the risk of contracting COVID-19, her salary was cut (or rather, her sales plans were raised so that she could not fulfill them).

Since many Ukrainians go to work in Europe (especially in Poland and Italy), with the onset of the epidemic, many lost their jobs there and had to stay home. There was a video on the news. One Ukrainian flew to Italy intentionally to film how our Ukrainian migrant workers were returning from there. At that time, the temperature was measured for all arriving people. A control group in antiviral clothing entered the aircraft cabin and measured the temperature with a remote thermometer. There were many people on the plane with fever (some even had 104℉). But, many had swallowed a lot of antipyretic pills, and in some cases this even lowered their temperatures. Other footage that we saw was of people at the airport storming the exit, not wanting to go to the observation.

Most people go to work from Western Ukraine, so the incidence rate is higher there. There was a video in the news that was filmed in one of the western villages. There, a woman came from work sick with COVID-19, and she infected half the village. People gathered and threatened her; they said they would burn her house with her and her children inside because she exposed them to COVID-19. She cried, asked for forgiveness, asked them to not touch her children, to not burn her hut, and she would let them do whatever they wanted with her.

Numerous people in Ukraine are careless about the COVID-19 problem. They go wherever they want, gather in groups without masks, etc. Some do not even wear masks in the store and during transport. Often you can see people with lowered masks, and they do not lift them when they have contact with other people. Frequently, shop assistants will sit with their masks down.

One lady I know regularly posts on Facebook against wearing masks. One of her arguments is ridiculous; there is supposedly acne that develops because of wearing masks, and doctors forced to treat the acne will be afraid of it. Another argument is that no one should be forced to wear a mask - each person should have freedom of choice.

In my opinion, freedom can only be real when it does not affect the freedom of other people. She wants not to wear a mask, and her relatives and neighbors want not to get infected from her if she gets sick. Whose freedom should be respected?

I do not understand this. How can you be so reckless about the risk of getting sick and the risk of infecting your loved ones? Many people have elderly parents who are at risk. But some people don't care. They do not care that doctors, risking their lives in this terrible situation, are forced to work for days without seeing their relatives. The doctors stay in hotels to protect their loved ones, so their loved ones will not get exposed to COVID-19.

Some people don't care that many doctors have already died from COVID-19 and many more could die. But, when they get sick, they will immediately run to the same doctors that they didn't care about, demanding to be treated immediately. And God forbid if the ambulance is delayed for twenty minutes! It is difficult to convince such people that they need to somehow treat all others responsibly.

Some people have laughed when I tell them that we almost never go anywhere and that we have less contact with people. We go for a walk into the yard, and we look for deserted places to take walks. If there are no people nearby, we will lower our masks. If someone passes by, we put on our masks again. In the store, my husband wears an N95 respirator and glasses, since the virus can also be obtained through the mucous membrane of the eyes. But we rarely go to stores, because in early March, we bought extra supplies of cereals, flour (my husband bakes bread himself in a bread machine), and canned meat. In my opinion, during the period of this dangerous infection, you can and should restructure your lives to minimize the likelihood of getting sick.

Of course, not everyone can, like us, stay isolated - some people must work. I understand. But you can, after all, put on a mask in transport and at work, and if possible, limit how often you are in crowded places. You can choose to not go to the city beach, but to instead go out of town with your family to relax in nature away from other people, etc. You can always come up with a way to protect yourself and others if you wish. One can suffer inconveniences for each other's sake, but alas, not everyone thinks so.

I wish you all good health! Do not become ill!


U N I T E D - K I N G D O M

Jim Coote
(Hertfordshire, England)

08-07-20: My name is Jim Coote. After 39 years as a research scientist for GSK I put my hand up for redundancy to explore videography as a means to stimulate progress in science and healthcare. To that end I started Mutual Awareness Ltd, but sadly have only found limited paid work. It's a tough field to break into, but at least I've enjoyed developing many nonprofit video projects. These have supported various charities and local events.

Another upside has been learning entirely new animation skills to go with my more ingrained expertise with a video camera. The final pleasure has been to discover the lyricist lurking within my soul that remained dormant for more than 60 years. My first effort at song writing is a track titled, "Accidental Suicide," designed to highlight the critical Climate Emergency we all face.

Unfortunately, although I have a gift for lyrics, I have no tone in my voice. My junior school teacher called me a 'vocal cripple'. He was unkind, but candid and truthful. My friends say my voice reminded them of English singer-songwriter Ian Dury. I guess that's why they are called friends. Anyway, I did not think I would ever write a song about a more important subject than Climate Emergency. I was wrong. Along came COVID-19.

As a scientist I worked on a flu project for two years. I was involved in immunology for the majority of my time. I knew exactly what was likely to happen with COVID-19. I was frustrated and annoyed that many politicians and people in general in the UK, most of Europe, and in the US, were so slow to initiate lockdowns or to put in place what was needed from all of us to combat this widespread disease. I felt a desire and obligation to write, "Stay at Home," to help support the lockdown, albeit a slow down that came much too slowly.

I decided that speed to get the song out there was more important than variety, and therefore, I used the same music I created for "Accidental Suicide." Also, although lyrics come to me quite easily and quickly, music does not. I only have the ability to cobble loops together on Garage Band, rather than play the simplest instrument. It would be quicker to train a horse. Even this attempt was a struggle; hence "Stay at Home" only has original lyrics. I made versions of the song with the lyrics translated into Russian, Portuguese, and Swedish, because these countries were hit quite severely with COVID-19. I was not adventurous enough to sing in those languages. I can barely sing in English, and I thought the world would suffer enough with that one rendition!

As the lockdown was eased in the UK, I made another version in the same style and same music, with different lyrics and images. This third song is titled, "Stay Alert at All Times."

The title, "Stay Alert at All Times" sums up the lyrics and the song was inspired by the words of our Prime Minister. He isn't a man I greatly admire, but it annoyed me when people pretended his "stay alert" message was "too vague." To me that seemed disingenuous and a weak attempt at the kind of political point scoring that we can live without. If either of my COVID-19 songs can save just one life, I'll consider my efforts worthwhile.

Overall, I remain very optimistic about the future regarding our battle against Covid-19. My scientific knowledge gives me insight into the many positive aspects of the quest to create a safe and effective vaccine, along with developing drugs that may support recovery. It is my mission to pass on this confidence via a series of videos on a news channel that will highlight the encouraging aspects of this difficult battle.

The lyrics and music to my songs are all copyrighted. Copyrights were secured to prevent others from using the songs for personal profit. I am keen to allow the use of my songs by any organisation battling COVID-19. Ideally, I hope the lyrics will attract the attention of someone with actual musical talent who will use my songs to raise money for nonprofit organizations and charitable causes.

Everyone, continue to stay alert,
Jim Coote


Nadia Cripps
London, England

12-28-20: COVID-19 affects almost everyone. Some people have lost their lives, some have lost dear loved ones, some are lonely, and some are depressed. It feels as if life will never be normal again. In fact, life has been divided into before and now. We can't even say "after COVID-19" because globally we don't know how long we will be facing this devastating and unpredictable pandemic. I created my piece of music on December 28, 2020 in memory of everyone lost to COVID-19. Each person was precious, unique, and unforgettable. My music grieves for and honors every person lost, every person who will be lost, and everyone suffering the loss of someone they loved.

May 2021 be better for everyone,
Nadia Cripps

"People We've Lost"
NadiaCripps - Pixabay Music
(2:44 Minutes)