Like many Americans, the Marley-Williams family has been forced suddenly to adjust to life in the new normal.
During Pennsylvania’s coronavirus shutdown, the Philadelphia family is facing unexpected pressures. Maxx Stoyanoff-Williams lost his job as a bar manager at a restaurant downtown, and his wife, Heather Marley, an art director, is working from home in Roxborough — multitasking between her job and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter Charliegh, who is now out of day care.
Similar scenes are unfolding across the city and state, with people being creative with how they deal with isolation and remote connection in the effort to slow the spread of the pandemic.
In the Prell household in Germantown, family members have carved out different corners of the house to focus on their work.
On Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia canceled all Holy Week and Easter services. In the Lehigh Valley, some Christian church services have been held at a drive-in movie theater that allows people to worship from their cars.
Across the country, kids have been playing games such as rainbow scavenger hunt as a way of maintaining connection and joy while keeping social distance.
In West Philadelphia, Geremiah Edness, 26, a freelancer in film and photography, is staying in a friend’s Airbnb during the city’s stay-at-home order. “Feeding my creativity and not becoming complacent is my biggest challenge — it’s so much easier to Netflix the day away,” he said.
Eleanor Alter, 82, is spending her time isolated at home drawing, painting and playing music. The classically trained musician lives with her husband and two German shepherds in Philadelphia. “I’m not at all afraid. If I got coronavirus, I’m very well, I’d get rid of it,” she said.
The statewide shutdown order has been hard on both people and economies — including parents choosing between work and caring for their children, small businesses, front-line workers who can’t stay home, and children who rely on school for free meals.
Norristown resident Lakeyia Johnson had just reentered the workforce after a serious illness, but school closings due to coronavirus are putting the single mother in a bind.
“It’s going to be hard on my family,” she said.
South Philly’s Nok Suntaranon is a bulwark against the hard times. Her Thai restaurant has become a hub for people in the food service industry to find a free meal during the shutdown. “When this happened, instead of thinking about myself, I took a minute and I think about them,” Suntaranon said.
In many parts of the state, streets have seemed like ghost towns. As of March 25, Pennsylvania has 1,127 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 11 fatal. New York and New Jersey have seen surges in confirmed cases in the past week, and they now lead the nation.
Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered a shutdown of non-life-sustaining businesses in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus. Ten counties across the state are under ‘stay-at-home’ orders through April 6. Schools statewide will be closed at least through that period.
Even with stay-at-home orders in place, Pennsylvanians are allowed to leave their homes for exercise, with guidance to remain 6 feet from non-in-home-family members when walking, running or biking.
As the arrival of spring coincided with the state’s shutdown order, many trails across Pennsylvania have been full of residents trying to find natural respite from long days working at home at computer screens.
At Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area in Dauphin County, the parking lot was jam-packed over the weekend compared to what’s typical.
Wayne and Karen Achey, of Bethlehem, found a creative way to maintain social distance while visiting relatives. They talk to Wayne’s mother Marilyn as she stands at her third-floor balcony at the Moravian Village retirement community.
Some people have found it more difficult to obey social distancing guidelines. Jessenia Almonte and Gabby Ball of Allentown are out of school, but neither has been hesitant to make contact while playing basketball.
The road ahead for Pennsylvania and the nation is unclear. There have been nearly 60,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with more than 800 deaths. A worst-case scenario predicts the virus could cause more than a million deaths if strict isolation policies aren’t kept.
In the meantime, the Pennsylvania economy has already taken a major hit. A record shattering 540,000 unemployment claims were filed in the state in the midst of the coronavirus shutdown in the past week alone.
Photographers Jessica Kourkounis, Emma Lee, Kimberly Paynter, Matt Smith, Dani Fresh, Min Xian and Katie Blackley contributed to this piece.