The goal of the COVID Response Project is to tell the stories from all over the United States of how different regions, states, and towns responded to this crisis. While there is a lot of information about COVID and about politicians and health departments responded to the crisis, there is very little reporting on how restrictions were carried out in practicality.
CRP is dedicated to helping tell this story and how it played out in every state across the country.
At the earliest moments of the COVID pandemic crisis, nearly every state in the United States shut down all but the most essential services. Schools were cancelled, businesses were closed, and public meeting places were shut down.
But, as the lock downs several weeks, different states began to chart different courses.
Several states made moves to lift restrictions as early as May while other states maintained them for a year or more. Some states instituted mask mandates while other states refused. Many people expected to see the efficacy of these policies show up plainly in the resulting COVID infection statistics.
But, as the months dragged on, there didn’t seem to be any clear connection between formal state COVID restrictions and the resulting COVID infection numbers.
THE MESSY NATURE OF LOCKDOWNS
Lockdown policies have been complicated, inconsistent, and difficult to capture. Every state had their own plan, their own multi-tiered phases of formal restrictions. Complicating an already complicated situation is the fact that many states aren’t enforcing their lockdown policies or doing so inconsistently. States without mask mandates still saw a high percentage of their population voluntarily masking while states that formally banned indoor dining declined to enforce their own policies.
If we’re trying to understand how COVID restrictions worked in practice, we can’t just rely on the formal state policies. We have to talk to people who were there.
This project is about capturing what COVID response actually looked like in different states and regions of the United States.
AN EXPERIMENT IN JOURNALISM
Our participants are telling their stories so that we can capture, remember, and understand what life was like in different parts of the country. This project is about collecting the on-the-ground political, social, and regional responses so we can see the differences and similarities in how we responded to the worst pandemic in 100 years.
Each participant writes up a 3-4 page summary of their region, covering how their region responded through schools, mask compliance, religious gatherings, restaurants, and theaters. They are also to bring their own unique insights as teachers, counselors, medical professionals, service workers, or wherever they saw details of the impact of this crisis in their own lives and the lives of those around them.
This is a lot of work and we feel very strongly that good work deserves compensation, which is why we are paying participants $100 for their time and effort. We've already completed 10 interviews and are looking for additional funds to continue the project.
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