Episode 14: Pandemics, plural: Season 1 recap

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Season 1 of "From the Source" set out to hear about life in Pittsburgh during the coronavirus pandemic. We heard from business owners, students, parents and others. Then, we shifted attention to the crisis of racism and police brutality against Black people in America — a civil rights movement happening during a health pandemic. Now, we're ending season 1 and would like to hear from you as we plan for season 2. What do you want us to cover? Who should we feature? What stories should we report? Please take this survey today!

JOURDAN HICKS: We’re different. We are a different Pittsburgh than we were a few months ago. Coronavirus turned life as we know it upside down. As we knew it upside down. As we thought we knew it upside down. And the realities have been different for everyone.

When we began this season, we were just starting to learn what living in a pandemic meant. And we heard from people about how it was affecting them, starting with a hairdresser worried about her employees.

CLIP (Dana Bannon): “I cannot have my employees’ insurance terminated during a health crisis. Like that’s insane. People should not have to fear health care in a health crisis pandemic. Like you should know that the one thing you're going to have is your insurance and be able to get care if you need it.”

JOURDAN HICKS: And the high schooler grappling with the realization that he was going to miss all the senior year milestones he had been working so hard to reach.

CLIP (Jordan McNeal): “Not having the traditional graduation process of walking the stage and getting your diploma and hearing that we might be online for graduation and our diplomas are sent in the mail. So I feel like the COVID-19 has really just put a damper on our vision of prom and graduation and just spending the last weeks of school with each other.”

JOURDAN HICKS: A nurse worried for her peers on the front lines.

CLIP (Theresa Brown): “I have this fear that our hospitals are just going to turn in into houses of plague. And I really, really, really hope that I'm wrong, but I'm a bit terrified of that...that there just won't be enough well people to take care of the sick. And that's because so many of the sick will be the people whose job is to take care of those with COVID.”

JOURDAN HICKS: As time went on, Pittsburghers talked about how coronavirus continued to wreak havoc on their livelihoods.

CLIP (Brendan Kerr): “And people are thinking about us. And it means a lot because we need it. And after this, we’re preparing for a recession for who knows what sort of duration.”

JOURDAN HICKS: But there were also a few bright spots -- A new mom talked about how she was balancing all of her feelings;

CLIP (Bethany McLaughlin): “It's sometimes a pretty painful balance of kind of slowing down and enjoying every moment with her, but also feeling a sense of like, come on, can't we, let's just have this be over.”

JOURDAN HICKS: An 8-year-old talked about what was getting him through the days stuck at home.

CLIP (Felix Wodzak): “In my bedroom, I usually build with Legos. I like to build things with a function. I've made a candy dispenser. I made a couple Lego locks. And that's just that for the rest of the day.”

JOURDAN HICKS: An advocate for the homeless shared his joy in helping others.

CLIP (Lorenzo Ruilli): “I love these little boxes. Take what you need. Give what you can. So that is a clear sign to help me fill it up. So that's what we’re gonna do. We’re about to fill it up real quick.”
And a punk rocker who had recently recovered from COVID-19.

CLIP (Alex Peightal): “In a weird way, I think maybe the world needed a little bit of pause. Maybe for a second it was nice not to, you know, feel like you're killing yourself, getting off to work, whatever, 12 hours and two jobs, three jobs, that kind of thing. So.”

JOURDAN HICKS: Taken together, the voices of these Pittsburghers provides an oral history - a kind of time capsule of what’s been happening in our city during the pandemic.

But then came the reminder of another pandemic - one that has been going on for a lot longer…

CLIP (Al Sharpton from George Floyd’s eulogy): “George Floyd should not be among the deceased. He did not die of common health conditions. He died of a common American criminal justice malfunction.”

JOURDAN HICKS: And then people began to wake up.

NEWS CLIP: “These demonstrations all across the country against police violence and systemic racism show no sign of abating a week after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis.”

JOURDAN HICKS: And everyone began to pay attention to the other public health crisis: racism and police brutality against Black people in America. We focused this podcast’s attention there, too.

CLIP (MEKKA LLOYD): “America has a lot of blood on its hands. They know that if all of these marginalized groups mixed with white allies, mixed with other demographics were to come together, we'd be unstoppable and things would change for sure.“

CLIP (Kim Neeley): “I really just want people to understand the fear we deal with every single day. Every time my kid walks out this door, every time my husband walks out this door, every time I walk out this door. You never know.“

CLIP (Jordan Neeley): “I am going to tell you about my first protest. Why did we go? Because George Floyd got assassinated and ended up dying because of the racist police. And the store person thought his 20 dollar bill was fake. What was it like? It was good because I got to yell Black Lives Matter and I got to take a very, very long walk.”

Chanting: No justice, no peace.

JOURDAN HICKS: Now we're pressing pause on the podcast to think about and work on season 2. What voices haven’t we heard? This season, we spoke to approximately 30 people. But Allegheny County has a population of more than 1.2 million people. I - we - need to hear from you. We need to hear your stories. We’d love to hear what you think. There’s a survey on our website. It takes under 2 minutes and you’ll be done. The questions we ask, we need your answers to make this podcast a better podcast for you.

We'd like to thank you all for your support. Thank you for sharing the links. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for your tips. Thank you for your stories. Just thank you for all of the support. We appreciate it so much.
If you’d like, you can become a member of PublicSource for as little as $5 dollars a month.

Please follow us at PublicSource.org where we are committed to producing stories for a better Pittsburgh.

I’m Jourdan Hicks. Be well, stay safe.

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