Op-Ed: Here’s how the coronavirus has changed the lives of Americans across the country

Illustration for "Dispatches from the Pandemic" op-eds
(Camily Tsai / For The Times)

In our series “Dispatches From the Pandemic,” we have featured the stories of dozens of people, many reaching out from quarantine. They’ve written about life on the frontline and life interrupted, of lockdowns and shutdowns, masking and Zooming — and the pursuit of normality. You can read their essays below.

If you have something to say about how COVID-19 has affected your work, your family or your life, please email your submission to

After two shots of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you’re good to hug your vaccinated mom, right? Not so fast.

March 8, 2021


When the doctor told us to call the COVID vaccine hotline, we knew we were completely on our own, despite my parents’ advanced age and risk factors.

Feb. 27, 2021

At her Zoom grief group, a daughter discovers ‘heartbroken but whole people’ and a human connection that crosses the virtual divide.

Jan. 24, 2021

A doctor asks: If you don’t trust the coronavirus vaccine, why are you in medicine? Getting the shot is a civic duty.

Jan. 15, 2021

Through its strict rules for travelers, Singapore was protecting its population from me. But for the first time during the pandemic, I felt safe.

Jan. 1, 2021

Librarians and other city workers have been redeployed as contact tracers during the pandemic.

Dec. 30, 2020


You might think that a doctor with a health history like mine would avoid the front line of a novel viral pandemic. It isn’t that simple.

Dec. 29, 2020

Since singing is risky during the pandemic, my group went on hiatus. As our silent season continues, we and many others must forgo holiday performances.

Dec. 20, 2020

Since the pandemic, I’ve gone from running four restaurants to one. Dining restrictions targeting restaurants are using my industry as a scapegoat, blaming us for spiking COVID-19 cases without providing evidence.

Dec. 6, 2020

My Buy Nothing group is modern magic, not quite genie-in-a-bottle stuff, but still good: from those who have to those who need.

Nov. 1, 2020

My brother died in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s not when we lost him. He disappeared from our lives years ago, diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Oct. 11, 2020


I’m a Northern Californian but I find myself inching toward a status I never dreamed of: expat.

Sept. 25, 2020

Maybe bougie food fantasies will accompany us all the way through the destruction of life as we know it?

Sept. 18, 2020

A calm descends on a resident of Bishop during the coronavirus quarantine. But then smoke from the fires arrives.

Sept. 13, 2020

In wine country, tourists sip Cab Sav amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the LNU Lightning Fire Complex rages.

Aug. 30, 2020

Children and adults alike track the peacock’s movements through the neighborhood, thrilled when he spreads his tail plume in a dazzling array of colors and patterns.

Aug. 20, 2020


Growing up in a family with problems, my lifeline became Alan Alda’s Hawkeye on “MASH.” As a doctor fighting COVID-19, I channel his humor and rage.

Aug. 16, 2020

My teacher, the great American pianist Leon Fleisher, taught his pupils about playing music for music’s sake, which COVID now forces musicians to do.

Aug. 10, 2020

Is there room for a COVID-19 learning curve when your job endangers your life? The restaurant I work for doesn’t know if it’s doing enough.

July 19, 2020

As a patient dies of COVID-19, a hospice chaplain provides support for his family and medical staff. Her message: Wear a mask.

July 12, 2020

Before I came down with COVID-19, I could run for miles. After returning from the hospital, I needed a wheelchair to go even half a block.

July 9, 2020


We all want to recover from whatever malady brought us here, and we’re not about to blow this second chance by doing something careless.

June 15, 2020

Magic happens in a physical classroom, not through online platforms popularized during the coronavirus quarantine.

May 26, 2020

It hit me: Letters! Care packages! That was how to bridge the pandemic distance and be an ally.

May 23, 2020

My scrubs broadcast to the world that I am someone to be avoided. Want to support healthcare workers fighting COVID-19? Reach out to them.

May 15, 2020

The coronavirus-idled events team from a ski resort runs a food bank in Basalt, Colo., pivoting from delivering entertainment to helping the hungry.

May 9, 2020


Building a wardrobe of fashionable face masks doesn’t make me insensitive to the grave consequences of coronavirus.

May 8, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic might be a tipping point for small medical practices, which have had trouble staying afloat.

May 3, 2020

The days run together during the coronavirus quarantine, but a jigsaw puzzle and a brief family moment help define them.

April 18, 2020

In this pandemic, we need an emergency increase in the number of green cards issued to immigrants with critically required skills.

April 23, 2020

When I came home from college because of the coronavirus outbreak, my eighth-grade English teacher, my mentor, postponed a meeting with me. She had a fever and a cough.

April 24, 2020


Dancing at home during the shutdown is the coronavirus pandemic’s bathtub gin.

April 21, 2020

I’ve been doing my part to keep an eye on my older neighbors, which helps calm my own feelings of fear and helplessness.

April 17, 2020

I’m running low on toilet paper, thanks to hoarding in response to the coronavirus outbreak. I’m not worried, because I’m done with TP for good.

April 13, 2020

Dispatch from the pandemic: Times of stress can be life or death for a recovering alcoholic or addict

April 11, 2020

A garlic bulb, found almost desiccated during a vacuuming, is pushing greenery toward the sky. The cilantro, though, has been wholly devoured by snails.

April 13, 2020


Dispatch from the pandemic: Circumstances have forced my family to practice extreme social distancing

April 12, 2020

A touching video of Jane Goodall releasing a chimp into the wild makes my son sob. His tears may reveal frustration over our coronavirus-altered lives.

April 11, 2020

How the soothing action of knitting calms my stress and fears -- one in a series of dispatches from the pandemic.

April 11, 2020

Maybe it’s enough just to be a witness to these crazy times.

April 5, 2020

With clear heads and no distractions, I am certain we can finish this coronavirus marathon without a scratch.

March 28, 2020


I was supposed to get married yesterday. Life — and coronavirus — had other plans.

March 22, 2020