A Museum of COVID-19

Created by Carolyn Wood, May 25 2020. Thank you to all who contributed their thoughts!


Throughout this term, I have asked interviewees, family, friends, and strangers on Facebook: “If you could record one story, image, or object that will be in a future museum of COVID-19, what would you choose and why?” This post will serve as a compilation of these responses.

I received roughly 30 responses via a Google form that I shared on Facebook. Seth Finkle, a school therapist and family friend, shared this post with his circle, which brought in numerous responses from Lehigh Valley Area teachers. I got an additional 35 unique replies from a Facebook forum on the “Easton PA-Events and News” group.

I plan to share the original Google form and Facebook posts in the archive, as well as the Excel file I used to tabulate. This post will serve as an accessible compilation of some of the responses I received to this question.

A Note on Language and Participation

The responses are exact copies of the phrasing, spelling, grammar, and emoji used by the original participants. I decided to report only the name of the participants, because I wanted their thoughts to speak loudest, without any identity-related judgements or assumptions. All my participants are current or past residents of the Lehigh Valley.

I collected my responses between April 15 and May 15, 2020.

The Responses

Masks and Objects

A face mask and a pair of gloves. By wearing these, I kept myself safe and my community safe.

Stacie Boose

Handmade masks. It’s a symbol of what people are doing.

Nick Desai

Mask because we are a society that doesn’t wear them normally.

Amy Lutte

a nurse all geared up with mask, sheild, gowns, gloves, looking TIRED

Rachel Noto Irvin

Maybe you could choose 19 different items that symbolize the timeframe! mask, quarantine, empty streets, 6ft distance, nurse, essential workers, stimulus check, China, COVID-19, police, truck drivers, sanitizer, gloves, grocery workers, remote learning, test kits, remote teaching, parks closed, virtual birthdays (parades) here is 19

Brian Turdo

I’d have to say a homemade mask, to show how local men and women came together to sew 10s of thousands of masks. In my area alone over 15K have been documented. That does not count those that folks like me have made or other areas throughout the country and world. There are a lot of sewing machines humming along.

Eileen Gromlowicz

I would pick a roll of toilet paper because I find it strange that in the beginning of this people bought up all the toilet paper.

Kyra Finkle

The charmin commercial where they assure us they are working hard to keep up with production during this shortage of toilet paper. It’s still mind blowing that toilet paper has been ridiculously hard to find during a respiratory virus outbreak.

Niki Viscomi

A fork lift to represent the workers in food distribution, people forget they are essential workers.

Donna Cooper Merritt

Zoom logo

Hugh Lesster

6 feet…

Raj Patel

I do love the picture of my son dressed for a Zoom job interview, wearing a suit and tie on top and athletic shorts on bottom!

Melissa Sonnenblick

A mask 😷


Someone sewing masks. Look for the helpers.

Linda Reagan

making masks. I am doing that for friends/family, and a nursing home.


A face mask. Facemask to me has become the symbol of this virus, the lack of face mask the fact that everybody needed one. The doctors and the nurses needed masks that were medically safe. But all over the country everybody needed a mask to go out in public, to go into stores. People were sewing them in their homes. 

Yvonne Hockman Osmun


My 8yo and I have sewn almost 300 masks to donate. We didn’t know how to sew before. We taught ourselves and in our spare time between school and eating we have worked on sewing masks.

Samantha Laudenslager

Probably my kitchen table, filled with fabric (I am a quilter) and the masks I am making for my family members. I also had the time to finally start and finish a t-shirt quilt my older daughter asked me to make for her years ago. There is also a stack of books that I finally had time to read. I am close to retirement and had been undecided about whether I would like it or not, since I love my job. However, I now know that I will have lots to do in retirement too.

Susan Siegrist

A photograph of a deep blue sky over Los Angeles, as it serves as a reminder that we are all connected and that reduced consumption and travel can directly and rapidly result in a significant decrease in our collective carbon footprint. Working together, we can readily produce positive lasting change for ourselves and our planet.

Seth Finkle

The earth appears to be doing well during this break from humanity.

Tara Stephenson

The earths healing cycles due to less pollution! And the Atmosphere!😎

Janice Herman

The story of people finding new ways to connect with each other and themselves.

Sarah Benjamin

Italians singing from their balconies. It shows community.

Carolyn Brior

Virtual Learning & Activities… the way many educators turned to Zoom to teach (not my children’s teachers, but most of us at the college I teach at). I just think it’s amazing that I can be in a “Zoom Room” and teach my students in a cool similar manner that I teach in the classroom through Technology! All these similar ways, “GoTo Meeting”, “Microsoft Teams”, “Cisco”, and all these really interesting ways technology has allowed us to get people together online without actually being in ONE room! Awesome! I’ve gotten “together” with friends in NY (I’m in PA) during the weekends through these awesome ways and “hung out” more during the current Pandemic than I ever did during “normal” times! I just think that’s one of the best and most positive things that have come out of this Pandemic. I miss my NY buddies!! A bunch of my close friends will be setting up a time to “hang out” online soon… some of these friends are in California, some are Overseas, and the rest of us are scattered throughout NY, Boston and PA. Now I can “see” them, even if it’s through a computer/ phone screen… and we can chat or “play a game”!

Kristina Carbone

I would wait to decide here. I predict that photos will pop up from garage sales in the spring of 2021 that contain mountains of toilet paper and exercise equipment. Or photos when the vacinne becomes available to the public, we may see photos like that seen in NYC Times Square after we won WWII.

Dennis Kraus

I’m a history teacher who also lives in Forks. I just wanted to tell you that you mr “image” question that you posted in the Easton group was really thought provoking. Could you really just choose 1? I’m not sure. The responses that everyone has given you- the good that has come from it along with the bad I feel was really poignant. I haven’t had many extreme emotions since leaving my classroom on March 13th, but the people’s responses and reasonings made me tear up a bit. Thank you so much.

Brenda Michalska


View of the Lehigh river from our back yard. It is beautiful and unspoiled. I’m sure it will get filled with developments and buildings.

Lisa Noll

Rick Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. His story….Roma is burning, my friend.

Angelo Gentile

The many images of hospital staff breaking down after lengthy, difficult shifts with Covid patients will stay with me. I am also struck by the unbelievably long lines of cars waiting to pick up free groceries.


Empty streets, shows how c easiky people will gove up their rights

James West

Well this isn’t over yet, so I believe that once this whole thing has found a conclusion, just the staggering effects it had on society and how we all had to alter our daily life.


One of the pictures of health care staff standing in front of protesters. To me, it epitomizes the struggle between science and the current brand of madness that seems to afflict some people.

Amy Walthier

I realize that today, like everyday, there are people suffering, and my story is one of a #firstworldproblems nature, but it is something I will always remember from this time. The first time my grandparents zoomed was a disaster. My uncle was on his laptop, my cousins upstairs on their I-pad, and my aunt was in the same room as my uncle trying to talk my grandparents through the process. They were so confused, my aunt and uncle were so frustrated, and my cousins and I were just laughing so hard. I had to quick text my brother to get on because it was a classic moment.

Sarah Lucci

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cmPhUAXsU0… (video entitled “Lockdown Protests—The Great Awakening Worldwide)

Albert Huntington


If I could somehow capture the loss of freedom, political agendas and lack of ability to change the corruption of big business and governments and the impact this has on the world.

Mary Kapcala

One of the now deleted social media posts from Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who tried to warn the world about it and later died from it.

Al Kratzer

Lines of cars for food. A poignant message that even though we supposedly had a good economy, people were still living paycheck to paycheck. The abrupt closing of businesses left so families struggling more than they were before. Or a scene from a NYC hospitals where patients were lined up on ventilators or refrigerator trucks waited for dead bodies.

Michelle Lippincott LaBreche

Zoom funerals ;(

Jodana Lynn

 a montage of all of the dead healthcare workers that no one seems to care about enough.

Jocelyn Can

Empty grocery store shelves

Nikki Ryerson

My self crying on the phone with one hand and praying with the other.

Marisol Santiago

A picture of empty roads. Represents the closing down of society as we knew it.

Cynthia Simon

Empty city square like time square in NYC

Maggie Ryan

24-hour time lapse photography of Times Square

Thomas Elliott

Crowds in NYC with everyone wearing masks.

Linda Dalton

mass graves in New York representing all the lives lost

Susan Mulrooney Eagle

The picture of mass burial in the NYC park

Yvonne Wolski-Worman

The hospital ship heading past the statue of liberty..

Frank S. Graziano Jr.

Boarded up Windows at a state store

Mary Margaret Geuss

The families separated by windows yet visiting quarantined loved ones: their hands on each side of a window.

Heather Schaffer

What I Have Noticed Lately

  • People are growing more relaxed. While our county’s stay-at-home order remains the same, the atmosphere in the Lehigh Valley, PA, is becoming notably more normal. The roads are significantly busier, much to the disappointment of those who took the empty streets as justification to go 30 miles over the speed limit. People seem less anxious. I see more people out in groups at parks or walking, or hosting parties at their homes.
  • People can’t seem to agree. We’re moving far too fast! We’re moving far too slow! People are dying! The economy! It is such a divisive time and everyone’s stressed out, which I observe first hand through my Democratic mom and Republic dad.
  • Wholesome chalk messages and signs have become mainstream. All around our area on sidewalks and streets people are writing encouraging messages in chalk. Many people put up signs indicating birthdays and graduations: “honk, an Easton High School grad lives here!” is a common sign.
  • Grocery shopping is still very challenging. You must wear a mask inside. They have staff to count every person who enters and exits, to limit the total number in the store. Stickers and tape mark the directions of aisles and where to stand for check-out. While everyone is typically kind and considerate, I find the fact that everyone is wearing a mask very disconcerting. In addition, we’re still being hit by product shortages, with limited access to pork, chicken, eggs, as well as all cleaning supplies and paper products.

Alright, that’s all for now! I am planning to write a longer and more thoughtful piece on economic changes and how my own perception has shifted.

Life Online

The Isolation of Online Life

In a time of “social distancing,” many people are learning to live and connect online. At times, this shifts generational power. For example, before the pandemic, my parents often complained about how much time my sister, other “kids” and I were spending on our “devices.” Now, my mom is forced to constantly ask us for help:

Mom: “I want to talk to my friends, how do I get Google hangouts?”

Me: “You have to get the App.”

[A few minutes pass as we try to navigate to the App Store]

Mom: “Which one do I download?”

Me: “The one the says ‘Google Hangouts'”

[Mom proceeds to download the Facebook App]

A paraphrasing of true events. Sorry Mom.

While I found this amusing, I notice that older people who often complained to me about “those darn kids on their devices all day” are now suffering due to their lack of technological connectivity. While some have younger relatives that help them set up Zoom, FaceTime, or other platforms to maintain closer connections with family and friends, other elderly people within my church are really struggling right now with the lack of “normal” connection.

And while young people may be more adept at socializing online, I think that we are still profoundly and negatively impacted by social distancing. I find living my life on Zoom, and FaceTime, and Hangouts, and Facebook, and Google Drive, and Instagram, and just writing on my computer incredibly exhausting. Having access to these technologies is a huge privilege, but living life virtually just feels wrong.

The Beauty of Local Facebook Groups

I am going to share a few posts from my local Facebook group. For this format and moment, I am excluding names.

In the comments of the same NYT article post. Facebook really brings out the best in people.
Vigilante justice?
A cute idea! Lots of people in my area are putting up signs and balloons saying “Honk, there’s a birthday here!” or hosting socially-distanced parties.
A sweet adaptation.

Alright, that’s all for tonight! Again feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! Or email woodc2@carleton.edu.

My Life: An Attempt At Photojournalism

Springtime and Hope

Socially distanced Dungeons and Dragons. Mid-March, before Stay-at-Home Order. Photo credit to my mom, Salli Wood (Carleton ’86).

Changes to Life

Global Citizen “Together At Home” Livestream on Saturday 4/18. I found it disconcerting to see Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Fallon on the same screen. It made me think “Yeah, something is really be wrong.”

Grocery Shopping

I will also add these photos and more into the “Plague Yeararchive. I just really enjoy the formatting options on WordPress.

A Day in the Life

I have realized that the amount of content I am writing in my paper journal is too much to consistently post. Therefore, each post will be an excerpt from my journal. I will share my full journal in the Archives at some point in time. I think this is also important because I do not want to change the style of my journal out of fear of a public audience.

April 18, 2020

Introduction and Context

The county where I live, Northampton County in eastern Pennsylvania, has had 1441 reported cases and 36 deaths as of April 18th (from the PA Department of Health). Northampton and neighboring Lehigh county include the cities of Easton, Bethlehem, Allentown. My area is highly urban/suburban and within 1-2 hours (depending on traffic) of both Philadelphia and NYC. In my particular context, my dad is at a higher risk, leading to an exceptionally cautious lifestyle.

While grocery shopping, I sometimes feel as if I am living in a post-apocalyptic movie.

A Day in the Life: Disruptions Large and Small

I am not on Carleton’s campus in Northfield, MN. This is the largest clear difference between now and “normal life.” This is the longest I have lived at home for roughly 1.5 years.

My family is all here, always. My sister was studying for a masters-level teaching certificate in Birmingham, England, but returned home on March 15, 2020. My parents are both working from home. My Dad is a math prof. at Lafayette College, who is struggling to adapt to online teaching after years of routine. My mom is retired, but volunteers extensively.

I can’t see my friends in-person. This is something that has been changing rapidly since I returned home on March 17, 2020. Initially, two of my close friends and I met up in a local park to chat. We kept our hands clean and maintained a 6-foot distance. Then the park was closed suddenly; we actually got yelled-at through a megaphone by the Forks Township police for sitting in the grass. We have since decided to switch purely to video calls, to limit risk for our parents as much as possible.

I can’t really go out. Under Gov. Wolf’s stay-at-home order, all non-essential businesses are closed, and we are expected to remain home except to perform activities essential to the health of our families and our pets.

Individuals are permitted to engage in outdoor activities; however, gatherings of individuals outside of the home are generally prohibited except as may be required to access, support, or provide life sustaining services.

PA Governor Tom Wolf (D), “Stay At Home Order Guidance,” applied to include Northampton county on March 28th. Here is the actual Order.

But, I go out for the following activities. I walk or bike in my neighborhood. I drive to Jacobsburg State Park to walk there. My sister and I collaborate to do Meals-on-Wheels delivery (I drive because she has no sense of direction). And I go to friends’ houses to pick up or drop off supplies (such as hand-sewn face-masks, chargers, art supplies, and clothes).

Going out into nature is what keeps me sane. I can drive 20 minutes and return to the wide-open spaces of rural America.

The little things. I wash my hands more often, and better. I always have my hand-sanitizer and mask with me. I make creative meals with the long-forgotten remnants of food in our freezer or cabinet. Almost everyone at the grocery store seems anxious and is wearing a mask. And much more. ..

That’s all for now folks. Please share your experiences in the comments!

Reflections from Carolyn’s journal

This post includes direct quotations from my journal. I have made some minor edits to grammar and style and omitted some personal details. Please be aware that this contains upsetting information (COVID-19 and mentions of the Holocaust) and features my somewhat crass sense of humor.

April 3, 2020

Hello. I’ve been writing occasionally on my laptop again, but otherwise, I’ve been avoiding it, cause it requires me to think about reality.

I read the news this morning. Deaths continue to grow exponentially. 3000 in France now. 4000 in Italy? Maybe more. Over 1000 in just NYC. It’s a lot. And the response, while perhaps too limited at first (definitely because of Trump), is similarly large. Apparently 1/2 of the global population is now under quarantine, or lock-down, or “Shelter in Place” orders. In Northampton County where I live, a stay at home order was put in place around 3/25, so we’re only supposed to leave the house for life-sustaining necessities, though we can still go out for socially distanced, passive recreation.

None of this is that new. But it’s only just sinking in for me that this is a Big Problem. And a long-term problem. I’ll probably be stuck at home until early June, if not longer. And I’m not personally or emotionally prepared for any of it. I want to help people. I want to do well in school. I want to stay sane. I want to keep in touch with friends. And I don’t totally know how to do any of that, or balance it?

Basically, I need to transition from my break plan into my spring term plan, while also dealing with the whole “global pandemic” thing.

April 8, 2020

I am currently at the park and it’s just about sunset. There were three cars in the lot when I arrived, which is more than the usual zero, but the woods are big enough and the trails wide enough that it’s quite easy to maintain the mandated 6 feet of “social distancing.” Social distancing is definitely the catchphrase of these times.

I should note that all my thoughts are tinged by my extensive research (over Carleton’s winter term) of the Warsaw ghetto. While the value of comparing our times to the Holocaust or WWII is dubious, I am not the only one doing it. Especially older folks at church, who were young teens during WWII, have noted that this sense of total disruption and mass domestic mobilization (toward sewing masks, for example) reminds them of the U.S. during WWII. A few additional parallels:

Fear and uncertainty: Those who wrote diaries in the Warsaw ghetto describe a lack of accurate information about the Holocaust. Information was shared through rumor, and Jews in the ghetto accepted the reality of the situation to varying degrees. Now, we have an oversaturation of information, especially due to the global connectivity provided by the internet. This allows many people across the world to share their personal stories on a mass scale, independent of government intervention. However, it can also create echo chambers or worse, two completely different narratives of reality both claiming verity (I am thinking of my own family and the contrasts between my conservative dad and liberal mom).

Deaths: News articles and politicians have drawn connections to Pearl Harbor and D-Day. I am not sure about this. There are different causes, a smaller scale, and a different at-risk population. For the United States, most WWII deaths were soldiers, who were young to middle-aged men. This being said, victims of the Holocaust included many women, elderly people, and the sick because young healthy men were valuable to the Nazis because they could perform labor.

Hope and humanity: In moments like this, I think that it is revealed that most people are good, humans are powerfully empathetic, and that hope can survive. There are so many examples of this, but what I would like to note now is a commitment to aesthetics. People are planting flowers, cleaning their homes, posting pleasant things online, doing DIY projects, and putting up unseasonal Christmas lights. This may seem trivial, but it matters. For example, even in the Warsaw ghetto, people took time to plant flowers, herbs, and veggies in their window boxes, to bring beauty and normalcy back into the cramped city blocks. I see this same instinct, this same need to create beauty in a dark world playing out in the tacky Easter decorations, gardens, and lights in my Pennsylvania suburb.

End of quotation. I understand that comparing COVID-19 to the Holocaust is flawed/problematic, but because I took a 300-level on The Holocaust this winter, that is where my mind is stuck. I am still journaling frequently and will post a similar installment next Sunday. I am open to feedback and suggestions!