CHICAGO (CBS) — We know the hard data of the coronavirus pandemic – the rising number of cases and deaths.
But an ongoing project at the University of Illinois at Chicago dives deeply into the emotional toll.READ MORE: Alphonso Joyner, 23, Charged With Shooting And Killing 71-Year-Old Woom Sing Tse In Broad Daylight In Chinatown
“Six Feet Apart” is a collection of writing, photos, artwork, and other creative works told by the UIC community. CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos took a look inside the stories of three UIC students.
Sometimes, photographs speak so much louder than words – social distancing markers on a floor, an empty campus, a woman in a mask with Clorox wipes in hand.
“A lot of them, you know, you might think of as sort of mundane things – a photograph of an empty street that’s normally busy or a photograph of people waiting in line outside a Walmart – but those were things that they had considered as sort of their central experiences at the time in March and April,” said UIC Library lecturer David Greenstein.
Senior Veronica Payton took a that Walmart photo Greenstein mentioned, as well as a video, showing ways COVID affected the city’s South Side.
“This was taken on a Thursday afternoon,” Payton said of her video. “The grocery store was only allowing a certain amount of people in the store.”
And when restaurants closed Payton saw people who didn’t have cars standing in line at a fast-food drive-through.
“It was really, to me, important to show what other people are going through during this time,” she said.
The pandemic turned very personal for UIC junior Hannah Schiopu, when a friend’s father died of COVID-19.
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“With her permission, I submitted a screenshot of a post she made on Facebook discussing the whole issue,” Schiopu said. “I honestly reached out to her afterwards and thanked her, you know, and appreciated the fact that she opened up.”
Other submissions chronicle the “new normal” – spirit week gone virtual, the “alternative” spring break, a remote cooking class, and a graduation like never before.
And some reflected the global sense of sadness.
“Every day I wake up, and I feel more weird and out of place,” sophomore architecture student Louis Lafone said in an audio submission.
Lafone mourned both the past and the future.
“The way that I saw myself and the way I saw the world around me and how I fit into it has totally changed,” Lafone said, “I had such bright hopes. I think that that’s kind of been dashed.”
But “Six Feet Apart” also shows how we still strive to connect, and how we support each other.
“People are seeing this moment in different ways,” said UIC archivist Leanna Barcelona. “‘Six Feet Apart’ is a way for them to share that story so that future generations are able to see what people were doing and thinking and feeling at this pretty crazy moment in time.”
And at UIC, that includes hope.
“Yes, we are resilient. Yes, we will get through this. Yes, we will pick up and we will be stronger than before,” Schiopu said.
We want to acknowledge UIC alum Kenneth Randall and staff member Joy Vergara, who contributed several of the images in this piece.
Submissions to “Six Feet Apart” eventually will be included in a digital exhibit on the pandemic.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Increasing Clouds Wednesday Night, Snow Flurries Possible Thursday Morning
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