How Long Island is Dealing with Coronavirus

By: Miya Jones
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How Long Islanders Are Dealing with Coronavirus

Coronavirus is hard to ignore at this stage in the game. It’s taking a toll worldwide forcing us to shift all aspects of our lives. Surfaces are unsafe and every cough is met with a paranoid stare or Google search.

We decided to check in with some people on Long Island to see how they were doing given our new way of life and they had this to say.

Leigh Lopes of Suffolk County, Cancer Survivor

How Long Island is Dealing with Coronavirus

Leigh Lopes has made several adaptions that have involved caution and cleanliness. This isn’t the first time she’s had to make similar changes. As a four-year cancer survivor, Lopes has had to be very carefully about her health and germs for the sake of her immune system. She’s also an American Cancer Society Team Captain.

“Even in my cancer journey, I always felt like I was in control, you learn how to adapt,” said Lopes. “With this virus, it is so out of control and it doesn’t have a behavior or pattern. It makes me look at people side-eyed and makes me wish my super power was germ-ray vision.” 

Lopes has been able to work from home as a PSEG Long Island payment processing clerk and avoids germs by staying in her home office a.k.a. a “bubble.” The bittersweet catch to it is that both her husband of 35 years and daughter are essential workers. Her daughter is a manager at a grocery store and her husband manages a manufacturing plant.

“We are, of course, grateful that they still have their jobs,” said Lopes. “But, we do not know if they could be bringing something in with them. I wish they could shower before they walk in the door!”

In the Lopes household, they come pretty close to it as everyone must throw their clothes in the laundry and take a shower before coming upstairs. Unsure of when the madness will end, Lopes has been clinging on to her faith and disinfectant wipes. She’s also created a peaceful space inside her home and mind recommending that others do the same.

“It is important to have your own inner peace however you can obtain that,” said Lopes. “I listen to background noise on my computer – sounds of the ocean, whales, or rain on a tin roof. I even have a virtual fish tank. Music is also very good for me. Find the safe and responsible fit that works for you. Survival is a motivating force; yet safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Christina Pilet of West Babylon, Event Space Owner

How Long Island is Dealing with Coronavirus

Christina Pilet is the owner of the West Babylon venue OmmSpaceNY, and as an events space owner, you can imagine it has not been the best time for business.

“I have received some refund requests which of course sucks,” said Pilet. At the same time, she’s doing her best to keep her spirits up. “I am mentally and emotionally preparing for changes by having a ‘no problem’ attitude. Everything happens for a reason and God has a plan.”

The mother of three decided to pay attention to the silver linings presented as an entrepreneur and mother.

“This has forced me to tap into my other talents and focus on what I can do better,” said Pilet. “I also realized how distracted I was working. Although I am home with my kids a lot, mentally, I’m somewhere else planning and working. I am redirecting my attention and energy to my babies.”

She has also decided to focus on fitness as a mindset and wellness coach and is far from letting the indoor food temptations get the best of her. Pilet’s recommendation is that everyone focus on self-care and whatever puts a smile on their face. She’s optimistic and says that by Memorial Day there will be some relief.

“I think this end once the warm weather breaks,” said Pilet. “It seems like forever already, but I’ve learned that success has a lot to do with how well you adapt to change.”

Juan Sigcha of Bay Shore, Artist

How Long Island is Dealing with Coronavirus

People have been hesitant to move forward with certain projects, and the case has been no different for Bay Shore artist and graphic designer Juan Sigcha.

“At the top of my strategy is budgeting the money I currently have,” said Sigcha who is also an art instructor at Pinot’s Palette. “My income has currently halted due to projects temporarily being postponed. My clients are also budgeting and being cautious.”

As a young and social artist who’s used to being out and about at different social gatherings for fun and business, this has put a dent in his plans. To pass the time, Sigcha’s recommendation is to keep creating and stay active.

“I recommend finding projects or hobbies that require no money, exercise, drawing, online gaming or redecorating the house,” said Sigcha. “Just keep your mind and body busy and productive.”

He is also unsure what kind of timeline coronavirus is on, but just hopes it passes soon.

Darrien Hunt of Queens, Farmingdale State College Student

How Long Island is Dealing with Coronavirus

Darrien Hunt, who is a student at Farmingdale Community College, believes the outbreak will last possibly until the end of the year but the effects won’t just disappear.

“I believe that we’ll be feeling the effects for a long time,” said. “Hopefully, it will bring forth unification and real positive changes.

The college junior’s studies were disrupted on March 13, when the school decided to shut down after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. Hunt said it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 closed the school.

“I saw that schools in the vicinity such as Stony Brook and Hofstra close,” recalled Hunt. “I saw how rapidly the situation was escalating, so I knew it would be in everyone’s best interest [to close the school].”

Luckily, he is not a senior and didn’t have too many classes on his plate, but he wasn’t unsure of how he, along with his fellow students, will make the switch from in-person to strictly online schooling work.

“I think it’s going to be a struggle for a lot people, including myself, to adjust to the process and learn efficiently,” said Hunt. “Some people learn better in person, so I’m sure it’ll be a challenge for them.”

To pass the time and keep sane, Hunt recommends that everybody use this time now for reflection, education and strategizing for future plans.

Diana Marie of Lake Grove, NYC Teacher

How Long Island is Dealing with Coronavirus

On the other side of the desk is Diana Marie who works as a teacher for New York City schools. For her, the whole situation has been a “whirlwind.”

“The outbreak has definitely caused anxiety at times,” said Marie. “Trying to balance your own family needs and being there for your students always weighs on my mind.”

To prepare for our new virtual school reality, Marie said she, along with other teachers, went full force with a three-day crash course on Google classroom.

“I am lucky to have the option to teach virtually,” said Marie. “This lessens the pressure of having to commute every day. It’s just all about time management at this point.”

She couldn’t put a date to when the outbreak will end because every news story brings something different and new. In the meantime, she is working on a healthy work-play balance and advises others to do the same.

“I am making the most of family time with my children who are six and two-years-old,” said Marie. “We watch Disney+ more than I’d like to admit and we’re trying to maintain some type of normalcy. My advice would be to not overwhelm yourself with pressure. We are all in the same boat. Just take it one day at a time!”

If you want to tell us how are doing during this crazy coronavirus outbreak, reach out and check in. We may feature you. Let us know what your strategies are for coping with coronavirus.

Miya Jones

Miya Jones

Miya Jones is a Long Island native and the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Shades of Long Island. She's been a journalist since the age of 17 and is a diversity advocate. Follow Miya on Instagram and Twitter: @miyajones1996 and on Facebook as Miya Jones.

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