Portraits From a Pandemic

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Whether Trapped at Home or Marching in the Streets, Terps Facing an Enduring Health Crisis Cope, Question and Count Their Blessings.
By Terp Staff | Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle

The danger and the dullness arrived hand in hand.

When a deadly virus blossomed in the United States along with the early signs of spring, regular life came to a sudden stop. Schools and offices closed. Movie theaters, houses of worship and stadiums went dark. Highway signs switched from warnings of accidents or lane closures to stern commands to stay home. The cliché “new normal,” often tossed about as casually as loose change, finally seemed apt.

Like the characters in Albert Camus’ novel “The Plague,” we all began to eat the “same sour bread of exile.” We filled the void worrying about ventilators and PPE and talking about tiger kings, sourdough recipes, unemployment rates, and shortages of Lysol and ground beef. We could spend a morning staring at deer wandering a suburb, then the afternoon shepherding an antsy elementary schooler through a maze of educational apps.

And we tracked the spread of COVID-19 with grim fascination as the number of cases spiked in the Northeast, sloped downward and then regained startling momentum in the South and West. Minority populations and elderly victims succumbed at disproportionate rates, one more measure of how a virus can wreak havoc scaled to society’s injustices—a sign that returning to how things “used to be” would be no solution.

All of this reverberated through the University of Maryland community: in confinement abroad and in commitment to duty, in struggling for economic survival and in risking health to raise our voices against oppression.

University of Maryland students, alumni, faculty and staff opened up about their experiences in isolation and in tiptoeing back into society, revealing frustrations, pain and hope in the time of the novel coronavirus.


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Fall 2020 Features