The Interviews

Interviews are arranged alphabetically. Click on an interviewee’s name to listen to the audio and/or read the summary and transcript.
Jeiner Betancourt

EMS Squad Captain, New Jersey

“Prior to the pandemic it was really the usual calls that you see in EMS. Hospitals were not as packed, but once the pandemic came and the second week of April was here, they really looked like war zones. They had tents set up all over the hospitals, especially Overlook Hospital in Summit….they would triage patients coming in and determine whether they were COVID patients or potential COVID patients……the hospitals definitely had to have different procedures to follow, it was just… it was very… I don’t know, you got this feeling when you would arrive with the patient. I don’t really know how to describe what it was like. A very somber type of feeling.  You just felt a difference in the energy that was there before.”

Jenny Caughman

Methodist pastor, Tennessee

“Elderly people are isolated to begin with, and then this has just made them so isolated. Many of the assisted livings … the advantage of assisted living is you aren’t isolated, you’re living with other people that are facing your situation, you go to your meals together, you have your activities, there’s a lot of socialization. Well they were scared to do that, because they were scared of if it came the germs would be passed.”

Kasey Celona

5th grade teacher & dancer, Pennsylvania

On being a teacher: “I think it’s kind of been in my blood. My mom was my kindergarten teacher and I watched her for years, you know, she has a great passion for the younger kids. She works with the three-, four-, and five- year olds, so I think watching that growing up and also having some really great relationships with my dance teachers and seeing the impact that a passionate individual can have on a child’s life. Being in the classroom with a whole bunch of kids is a really fun job and I don’t sit still very well, so I mean, I never have a boring day in my field of work. And I feel like I get to make an impact in a way that is also fun for me.”

Casey Collins

UofSC student, study abroad program in Chile

“The stay-at-home order was issued while I was in self-quarantine after returning from Chile and so, I mentioned that my maternal grandmother is 90 and because my family is so involved in her care, I didn’t want to expose them or her to anything especially during my process of international travel, so I self-quarantined in a hotel in Columbia after I drove home from Charlotte. My parents brought a car up for me to use and then I stayed in a hotel for a little over two weeks to make sure I wasn’t exposing them to anything or trying not to.”

Alvina Emran

UofSC 2020 graduate and medical school enrolled, South Carolina

“Both my parents are doctors, a lot of people in my family even outside my parents are doctors… My grandmother was absolutely one of the most inspiring people to me. She was kind of like a pioneer in all sense of the word. One of the first female physicians in Bangladesh, as well as like a huge advocate and mentor to a lot of people.”

Alvina’s perspective in May, 2020 on the state’s reopening: So, I mean, I live in Myrtle Beach, so I see it firsthand. There are people everywhere. Like it’s Fourth of July but worse here right now. It’s mind blowing, it’s absolutely mind blowing. If you go to the closest Walmart it’s packed, no one’s wearing masks, no one’s following social distancing.”

Dylan Gunnels

The Agape Table & Mutual Aid group Columbia, South Carolina

“The mutual aid group is a great example. There’s probably 150 people in this group….most of them I’d never met before….it’s all through email and Zoom. We have collected gift cards for people who need groceries. We have collected hot spots and wireless technology for students who don’t have the resources. We’ve collected a bunch of masks….all of these different things. And my hope is that these ideas like Mutual Aid will continue beyond something like this to recognize that the point of community is that we are here for each other and we are supposed to be doing this together.”

Tingting Hu

PhD student and Chinese language professor at UofSC

“Like I said, [my family] they are in a small village [Chongqing, China] and there are still a lot of rituals from generations passed down. So in spring festival we are supposed to visit each relative household and to give them gifts and take turns to do that. The first day of spring festival and second day and then the third day and normally it will continue into the fifteenth day of spring festival, but because of the coronavirus all that they cannot do that. I think it’s a very big part of the tradition that’s been affected.”

She recites the Chinese poem Hei Feng (The Dark Wind) by Hai Zi:

Ren men a. Suo you jiao gei ni de du yi chang chang zhong. Ni yao ba ni sha wo de jin jin de zai shou huo shi ying gai wei xiao. Mei bi yao tong ku di ti qi ta man. Mei bi yao you shang di ji zhu ta man.


Cheryl McCann

Accountant and small business owner, Missouri

“…[Newscasters] talking about the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loan and how many people were not able to get it because it ran out of money so fast. And the people who were not able to get it were mostly people [who] did not have accessibility to a large enough bank to have that….rural America, people of color, people of lower economic status—and, ironically, women. Women-owned businesses.”


Sowmya Raghu
UofSC adjunct faculty and researcher, Mechanical Engineering, creating face shields

“Some of the research that I do is with 3D printing and we started exploring 3D printing options for different types of PPE, personal protective equipment, for the hospitals where the supply chains were very much lacking back two months ago.”

Sarah Roberts

Dentist, Georgia

“We added…personal protective equipment, otherwise known as the PPE, that everybody even knows the acronym now, not just health care professionals. We deal with a lot of aerosols, because we are in the mouth, and, for instance, when I use a high-speed hand piece, it’s like someone – and a high-speed hand piece, other people call that “the drill”, right? When I’m using my drill, it is like someone sneezing in my face 25 times a minute. So, that’s the amount of bacteria that I get whenever I run that hand piece. Now, do I worry about that? Not really, because we’ve been dealing with bacteria and viruses and diseases this whole time. There was the AIDS epidemic and there was hepatitis.”