Capturing COVID Part 2 | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

August 19, 2020 News » Cover Story

Capturing COVID Part 2 

Pandemic memories gathered by Utah Portrait Arts photographers

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Knowing the year 2020 to be history in the making, a trio of local photographers—Steve Conlin, Nick Sokoloff and Paul Duane, working collectively as Utah Portrait Arts—are documenting the pandemic through portraiture and stories. City Weekly published the first group of interviews in mid-May.

The three hope to compile the images and stories into a book that they say will be edited by New York City-based photographer Robert Clark of National Geographic fame.

Want to add your own story to the project? Visit their Capturing COVID Facebook page at Facebook.com/capturingcovidslc for details.


Ben Winslow
This was a historic time for our country and our state. Locally, we experienced an earthquake, economic stress and protests for social justice at the same time. Disinformation was everywhere, and people panicked and bought toilet paper. The pandemic overshadowed and changed everything. Daily errands had to be planned out instead of done on a whim; we couldn't hang out together. Some complied with health orders and recommendations, others didn't as their own form of protest.

I cover government [for KSTU-Fox 13], which is normally an ignored beat (because some feel politics and civic news are "boring"). I went from covering a legislative session directly into a pandemic, an earthquake, social justice demonstrations and an election season. Suddenly, everyone wants to know what their government is doing and how elected leaders are responding. They want the latest information about health directives that impact their daily lives.

For me, it has been almost overwhelming to stay on top of the state's response to a pandemic. The daily case counts, the rate of spread, efforts the government is taking to either keep people at home or let them go out, what's open and closed, what's in the latest re-opening plans, where are we on the color-coded scale and how people feel about that.

I miss sitting within 6 feet of my grandma instead of talking to her on a Zoom call. I miss my friends. I miss concerts, festivals and going to plays. I miss going out to eat at a restaurant instead of trying to figure out if they're open and if I can get take out. I miss cozy coffee shops and grabbing a drink at my favorite bars.



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Abigail
I have always thought of myself as an independent person. I'm also an extrovert and now I have to entertain myself. I work in infectious disease processing, and we do COVID-19 tests from around the country. My job has helped me through all this. Being an essential worker, I am forced to have interactions every single day. I don't think I could have gone without being around people.

It's really nice living with my best friend because we have a relationship that I don't have with anyone else. We have relied upon each other, we need each other and we have helped each other through everything.



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Angie Salot
It was weird. It was sad. It was tough. It was enlightening. It was fun, it was an emotional roller coaster. The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed our experiences—as customers, employees, citizens and humans; our attitudes and behaviors changed as a result.

In the pre-pandemic globalized world, we enjoyed a certain level of trust we mostly took for granted. We could travel almost without limitations, meet people without restrictions and order products worldwide. This has changed after billions of people had to stay indoors for weeks.

My appreciation of others is deepening. My understanding that we must work together is heightened, and I see anew the beauty and sustaining quality of nature and the outdoors—more so than pre-COVID-19.



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Councilwoman Shireen Ghorbani
COVID-19 hit almost exactly one year into my first experience as a public servant in elected office. As a Salt Lake County Councilwoman, I can tell you your local government matters every day. Leadership and decisions made in your city and county matter immensely. I'm so proud of many of the Salt Lake County employees. And, a special shoutout to our contact tracers who work long hours at the health department to reduce the spread of the virus in the community. [When I look back on this,] I'll talk a lot about the bravery and care of frontline workers in grocery stores and warehouses, in hospitals and across many industries where people simply have to keep going to work. I'll reflect on the creativity of our artists and the resilience of our small businesses and restaurants. I'll talk about how much I miss hugs and how seriously important it is to vote.



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Princess Kennedy
My life has been a series of challenges and costume changes.



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Allison Croghan & Archie
I was very fortunate to have the normalcy of my job [as meteorologist at for KSTU-Fox 13]. Living by myself was a blessing and a curse. It was nice because it was quiet, and I could do whatever I wanted—but it was lonely. I went months without touching another human. What I missed most was hugging my friends and family.

Moving forward, I will appreciate and not take for granted when I get to see my family, friends or go to a concert.

I've been surprised by how mean people are social media.



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Christy & June
I've always been psychologically prepared for a catastrophe of some kind—an earthquake, for example. I didn't expect this. I don't like the nature of the pandemic, making me feel separate from the people I love and care about. I love talking to strangers. I miss the spark of connecting with people in a friendly, serendipitous way. I also want to hug and kiss my mom and grandma. My daughter and I live so peacefully together. I realize that when she gets older and moves away, that I always want to live that amicably. My anxiety is pretty soothed just staying home in my garden. —Christy

The loneliness crept up slower than I thought. For a month, I felt fine and even guilty that I didn't miss my friends, but now I really feel it. My greatest challenge has been feeling trapped.—June



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Gloria Mensah

I passionately lead the GK Folks Foundation (gkfolksfoundation.org), a nonprofit with the intent of enlightening others about Africa's rich cultural heritage. Aside from community awareness, my nonprofit educates and empowers Africa immigrants/refugees to realize their vast potential. Earlier this year, as a result of my desire to impact more lives, I decided to quit everything (full-time work, traveling plans, etc.) and focus on expanding my nonprofit.

However, the pandemic and mandated quarantine struck just two weeks before our Grand Finale 10-year anniversary. Everything was ready, but we had to shut down. We were devastated, scared, sad and confused. As a nonprofit leader, and as a wife, mother and friend, I have chosen to remain positive and see the silver lining from this "dark cloud" experience. And what do you know—this pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for me.

What I've learned about myself is that I can adapt to any situation I find myself in. I am resilient! The quarantine has made me discover some new skills and talents I never thought I had. I grew fonder of what is the single most important thing in the world to me: my family. Just having time to talk with my kids and home-school them; go on walks and bike rides; and spend an abundance of quality time with them has taught me that I love being surrounded by my loved ones more than I realized before.

Above all, this pandemic has helped to shape my perspective and realize what is most important. So, no matter what the norm is in 10 years, that norm can be changed, and that is OK. The new norm can be a blessing in disguise.



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U.S. REP. ben McAdams
I got sick with COVID-19 on March 14—one of the first cases in Utah. It hit me really hard. I was in the hospital for eight days and on oxygen. I had a really hard time breathing. I got better, and now, I'm trying to both share my experience and make sure we take this seriously and follow public health guidelines. As a member of Congress, I'm working to pass legislation to stop the spread of the virus, to help those who've been impacted by it and to help us recover economically. When we look back on the whole experience, I think it will have changed us forever in both good ways and bad. It has reminded us of our humanity and to always care about other people.



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Brandon Z
My greatest emotional challenge has been transitioning from running a company to having it stop. Then, having to learn about who I am as an individual again. I miss my company. I held a lot of interactive social gatherings involving music, art, local vendors and helped our community. Through it all, I've learned what my strong and weak points are. I've quit drinking and have started biking a lot!



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Ami J
My greatest emotional and psychological challenge during quarantine has been learning to be happy by myself. Before the pandemic, I would go out a couple of times a week as a means of decompression.

Once I didn't have that outlet available anymore, I picked up old hobbies that I'd put on the back burner. I've been enjoying indoor gardening, cooking new recipes and writing. I love cooking for my family and having more quality time with them. I've also managed to take a break from drinking, started exercising more and just being healthier!

I miss my friends, concerts, poker and having sex—but overall, I've really enjoyed this solitary time without any distractions. I feel at peace with myself.



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Aleigh M
Since 2004, I have been an educator of primary-age children. Their intensity, curiosity, honesty and spontaneity brighten my life. Not being able to be in the same room with them has darkened my days considerably. That has been the greatest challenge —trying to cultivate my own sunshine.



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Stephanie Jochum-Natt
As a trainer at Utah's Hogle Zoo, not knowing whether I will still have a job in a few months weighs heavily on my mind. It's been tough to take care of the zoo cats without the normal training and interactions we do, even though I know it's to protect them from the virus.

When we look back on this pandemic, I'll tell people that the uncertainty was very stressful. A lot of communities worked together to protect one another, even when government leaders tried to ignore the issue and make it political. I've been surprised how people refused to believe it was happening and got it all mixed up with politics.



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Justin Utley
As a musician, I released a single that charted in Ireland and was set to do a four-week tour in the British Isles, which is now cancelled. I lost my fire, and l lost myself and my motivation. Then it hit me that instead of running around trying to meet deadlines, I had an opportunity to find myself as a person and as an artist again.



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Steve & Sara Urquhart
I'm surprised by the extremes of my emotional highs and lows. My highs are amplified and feel much higher, but my lows feel deeper and lower. I am working to give myself permission to not get too tied up in the lows in an attempt to just move through them.

—Sara

In 10 years, I will tell people the earth stood still. Though uncertain, it was thrilling, tragic and incredible. And during that time, I learned my day-to-day patterns are unhealthy.

Steve



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Natalie & Brodie
Natalie and Brodie will be celebrating their first year of marriage this weekend. Typically, they would celebrate it at the Burning Man festival surrounded by friends. The festival is where they got married in 2019. This year, the festival has been postponed.

Natalie is six months pregnant and works with lung cancer patients where she says, "we've seen a dramatic increase in the death rate, but because of their condition, they don't get always get tested for COVID-19.

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