Reporter’s Notebook: Life during the coronavirus pandemic

On March 16, 2020, seven Bay Area counties announced a shelter in place to stem the coronavirus outbreak. It was the most restrictive rules in the nation. Days later, two more counties, cities and states followed suit. Below are a series of multimedia pieces by Peninsula Press staff documenting what life is like under the stay-at-home orders. By mid-May, California businesses have started to re-open, but certain counties make the call on how the process happens.

Innovative Artists – Mo and Blasfemmeous

Alexa Luckey

Artists of varying mediums have been faced with the unique challenge of adapting their work to be suitable for current times. Going into 2020, Blasfemmeous (Stanford University ’19) and Mo McKynzie (Texas State University ’21) had projects planned and were ready execute them. But COVID-19 presented challenges and restrictions. Both artists managed to adapt, create, and release art to the masses during the pandemic. Blasfemmeous, a New York City based electronic DJ and producer, consistently released mixes and brilliant sounds, including their debut single, Half of Me (feat. Mayuka). McKynzie transformed her theatrical practice and continues to work on plays suited for the digital landscape.

Spring Quarter in Quarantine

Noah Cortez

Around 600 students stayed on the Stanford University campus during spring quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. Campus life was different: dorms were empty, the Row was silent on the weekends, students were sequestered in their rooms for the majority of the day, and the dining hall provided pre-packaged, take-home food only.

This may very well be the reality of what students will experience come fall.

Many students who left campus before Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place policy have no concept of what it is like to live and be a student at Stanford under the regulations. Some students hope to come back and resume their lives at Stanford as they left them, when it is increasingly clear that this will not be the case.

This fall, students will be subject to a vastly different Stanford experience. There will be no frat parties on the weekends — the Row will not be populated at all this year. Every residence on the row has been reserved for isolation beds in case students contract COVID-19. Sports events may be limited to watching a live recording. Almost all classes will be taught online. Guidelines set by the university, such as mandatory face masks in public, ensuring that every student has their own room, and prohibiting social gatherings and activities, will fundamentally change Stanford academically and socially.

While students who left campus may have quarantined with friends in an AirBnb, or gone home to states with looser social distancing enforcement, Stanford students who lived on campus lived under very strict policy regulations.

This “vlog” that represents the experience and opinion of a student – me – who has remained on campus for spring quarter (and is still here for summer). The video provides insight on what Stanford may look like when students arrive on campus come fall, and more generally gives a perspective of what campus is like during the coronavirus pandemic.

Note: This video reflects my personal experience, and may not be representative of every student who has remained on campus for spring quarter.

Reframe: [Un]muted

Amy Xiong

Along Highway 1, the small coastal town of Moss Beach found itself with 11 new residents. Ten are first-year design students in Stanford’s Design Impact Master’s Program (the 11th person is someone’s fiancé). They’ve all decided to shelter in place together amidst the pandemic. The students roam the grounds of three houses, one of which boasts a sliver of an ocean view. They’ve found themselves in a perpetual cycle of Zoom calls, filling their breaks with livestream-led group workouts, late night gastronomical gatherings in the kitchen and breathtakingly windy ocean sunsets.

Each year, the Design Impact Program hosts an exhibition called “Reframe” to feature individual projects from students in the program. Formerly called the Joint Program in Design, this tradition dates back nearly 60 years. The idea behind the exhibition is that it presents a chance for students, who typically work in group settings, to express their individual “maker” chops. All program alumni, as well as family and friends, are typically invited to join in person. However, when the pandemic struck California in March, the exhibition was put on hold. But the program and its students decided that Reframe will not be lost to the pandemic, and instead held the event online. The Zoom-based venue has presented new challenges for the students, many of whom are creating physical pieces that need to be translated to an onscreen format. The theme this year: Reframe [Un]muted, is a playful reference to a well-known jargon in the virtual world. The video below documents how students created and supported each other in the last 48 hours leading up to the event, all while juggling classes, CA-ships and a rapidly changing world.

Celebrating Eid during a pandemic

Nisa Khan

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and state-wide state-at-home orders, a mosque in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, set a “Drive-Thru Eid” to celebrate the end of the fasting month, Ramadan on May 24th, 2020. The Muslim Unity Center announced the Eid al-Fitr event on their Facebook page, with a sign-up sheet that was completely filled out by the next day.

The masjid set up a pathway spiraling through their parking lot, allowing cars to drive through and stop by “stations” along the way, picking up food, candy, and drinks. Throughout the visit, passengers would roll down their windows to yell “Eid Mubarak!” to the mosque’s volunteers. With over a hundred families showing up, music was playing and spirits were high.

Mosques across the country have also participated in “Drive-Thru” celebrations, from New York to Florida to New Jersey, allowing the community to get together in a safe way.

Long line of cars
A long line of cars wait outside a mosque in Bloomfield
Hills, Michigan, Sunday, May 24. (Peninsula
Press/Nisa Khan)
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Photos originally posted on

Small business owners in San Antonio, Texas discuss their thoughts on health vs. wealth amid the pandemic

Kiana Williams

Rachel Conaway, operator of a hair salon, and Ray Caldwell, who runs basketball events for girls, both halted their businesses during Texas’ coronavirus shutdown.

Note: The author is a customer of Conway’s and has played basketball for Caldwell.

Ray Caldwell coaching
Kiana Williams pictured with her coach Ray Caldwell in July 2014 at a basketball tournament in San Antonio, Texas. (@SAFinestbball/Twitter)
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San Mateo County deputy on shelter-in-place order enforcement

Amy Xiong

San Mateo County in northern California has had a shelter-in-place order for nearly two months and it has been some of the strictest regulations in the country. Sgt. Ron Albertson, who works for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, is stationed at the Moss Beach Substation along Highway 1. He shares how the sheriff’s office is enforcing the rules and the reaction from community members and visitors.

Sidewalk Art

Vanessa Ochavillo

Children and their families have left out chalk drawings and encouraging messages to essential workers throughout the Historic District in Sunnyvale. In neighborhoods throughout the US, chalk art and homemade signs have become ubiquitous during shelter-in-place orders.

Chalk drawing 2
Chalk drawings line the walkway of a home in Sunnyvale, Calif. May 6, 2020. (Vanessa Ochavillo/Peninsula Press)
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Texas musician, student continues to thrive while quarantining

Alexa Luckey

In the world absent of COVID-19, award winning artist, Damoyee Janai, could be found working on new music in a recording studio, performing at one of the country’s many music venues, or studying in Boston at Berklee College of Music.

With colleges and universities shifting to virtual learning and the closing of venues, Janai returned to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where she has continued to release her magical sounds to the world through a number of virtual music festivals and Instagram live sessions.

In this interview, Damoyee discussed how she is using this unique time to further develop her sound, study new musical genres, and grow as an individual.

Public parks during the shelter-in-place

Tylar Campbell

With California’s statewide stay-at-home order still in full effect, parents must find other ways to entertain their children. Most play areas at public parks are closed, cautioned off like a crime scenes. Attention signs warn that violators of the counties orders will result in a misdemeanor for offenders.

park sign
A sign informs the public that the park is closed on Tuesday, April, 21, 2020 in Stanford, Calif. (Tylar Campbell /Peninsula Press)
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Stanford’s shelter-in-place

By Noah Cortez

About 600 undergraduate students have been permitted to remain on Stanford’s campus during the 2020 spring quarter because of the coronavirus crisis. Santa Clara County has imposed a mandatory shelter-in-place policy that severely limits the ability to go outside except for essential outings. The following set of photos is a collection of a day in the life of an undergraduate remaining on campus during COVID-19.

Palm Drive
Palm Drive at 6:49am at Stanford, Calif., Monday, Apr. 13, 2020. (Noah Cortez/Peninsula Press)
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Moss Beach

By Amy Xiong

Amy Xiong, a first year Master’s Student in Design Impact at Stanford University, captures the following photos. She is currently sheltering in place in Moss Beach with nine other members of her cohort. This photo series documents her experience living in a small and fairly isolated community during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as, her and her classmates’ educational experience during the spring quarter.

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Sunnyvale farmers market

By Vanessa Ochavillo

The Sunnyvale farmers market happens every Saturday — even during the pandemic. The farmers and the other vendors selling baked goods and hot meals are essential businesses according to the state shelter-in-place mandate. But operations are not unchanged. Some vendors have elected to prepackage their goods. Others are simply relying on buyers to temper their handling of fresh produce. All are careful to maintain a six-foot distance from those around them.

Apples wrapped in plastic
Where customers could previously examine produce before purchasing, vendors have prepackaged their produce in predetermined amounts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. April 11, 2020. (Vanessa Ochavillo/Peninsula Press)
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Emptiness on Caltrain and California Avenue

By Tylar Campbell

This notebook explores how people are navigating the world around them in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photos taken on April 16, 2020 of California Avenue reveals the emptiness and lack of people riding public transportation. Although many people are abiding by the stay-at-home order put in place by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the same rules do not apply for those deemed as essential workers.

Empty train cars pass through the California Avenue Caltrain stop on Thursday, April 16, 2020. (Tylar Campbell/Peninsula Press)
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