FIRSTHAND: Coronavirus

Explore the personal, firsthand perspectives of people whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus in Chicago

Stories

Lori Cannon

Lori Cannon

Lori Cannon lost hundreds of friends during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and ’90s when she earned the nickname “AIDS angel” for her tireless work feeding thousands of sick patients. The coronavirus has spurred her to action once again. She is now using the very same networks she established 30 years ago to serve a new generation of sick and homebound Chicagoans.

Erik Kwok

Eric Kwok

Coronavirus has devastated Chicago's Chinatown businesses — both with the Chicago "stay-at-home" order and hate crimes stemming from references to the coronavirus as a "Chinese virus." Eric Kwok is fighting to save the businesses with his food services company providing safety equipment and setting up direct-to-home food delivery services for elderly Chinese-Americans.

Michelle Garcia

Michelle Garcia

For Michelle Garcia, the coronavirus adds yet another threat to an already precarious health situation. She has cerebral palsy, and she cares for her husband, who is bedridden from a spinal injury. But the coronavirus has also made Michelle’s work as important as ever: an activist and advocate for people with disabilities in the Latinx community, she is determined to help her community through this crisis.

Sammy Dattulo

Sammy Dattulo

Sammy Dattulo’s job is as essential as ever. While most workers are quarantined at home, Sammy hits the streets before dawn to collect their garbage. The garbage man knows that if he doesn’t do his job during this pandemic, everyone else could be exposed to disease. But Sammy also realizes that handling garbage could put him at risk.

Falguni Dave

Falguni Dave

It is Nurse Falguni Dave’s first day working on a COVID-19 unit. She is exhausted from working a 12 hour shift wearing layers of protective gear and scared of becoming infected. But her biggest challenge is the isolation — she will be living apart from her family until the epidemic subsides.

Fr. Stephen Kanonik

Fr. Stephen Kanonik

On any given Sunday, Father Stephen Kanonik, a priest at St. Benedict Parish in Chicago, delivers Mass to as many as 1,200 parishioners. With the “stay-at-home” order he suddenly finds himself alone. Musical Director Jeremy Kiolbassa had an idea: he figured out a way to patch together iPads to create a video-streaming studio in the school chapel. Now Father Kanonik is delivering Mass to parishioners in their living rooms.

Tina Renaleli

Tina Renaldi

Tina Renaldi is homeless and living on a subterranean downtown sidewalk. As the Governor of Illinois issues a “stay-at-home” order, she wonders how she is going to survive. She relies on panhandling and donations from church groups for food and money, and all of that has now disappeared. Tina is left feeling like the homeless are an afterthought by society, and she wants the world to know that people like her are human and must not be forgotten.

Jahmal Cole

Jahmal Cole

When activist Jahmal Cole sees people in need, he takes action. As a public health crisis descends on his city, he has mobilized a host of volunteers to deliver wellness kits to more than a thousand of the city’s most vulnerable citizens. While he firmly believes that crises should bring us together, he is also seeing how racism and segregation — are continuing to drive Chicagoans apart.

Fr. Stephen Kanonik

FIRSTHAND: Coronavirus Trailer

Preview the digital series focusing on the personal, firsthand perspectives of people whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus in Chicago.

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