Days before Gov. Roy Cooper enacted the statewide stay-at-home order, Mecklenburg County issued its mandate to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus and the Covid-19 disease. A month later, Charlotte residents have made adjustments, large and small.
In this photo series, residents are sharing how weeks sheltered in place have impacted their families. Through his lens, local photographer Joshua Galloway captured a slice of life under lockdown. While each family tells a different tale, they all say the stay-at-home order has forced them to slow down.*
William and Tiffany
When William’s father died, his neighbors and members of his bible study group wanted to show their compassion, even though there couldn’t be a formal memorial service. The community paraded down his street with messages of support. A day later, friends gathered in the family’s yard on Charlotte’s west side. Many were donning masks as they stuck to the required physical distance. But it meant something to be there in a friend’s time of need.
Quintel wears many hats. She’s a wife, mother of three and owner/principal designer at Quin Gwinn Studio. Refiguring her morning routine and losing the structure of school have been the biggest adjustments. She does her best to explain about the pandemic and its implications to her children — ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade.
The family’s backyard has become a place for quality time and to get away from work.
“We’ve decided to turn a space in our backyard into a family garden. We’ll have vegetables and flowers. It’s a way to teach life skills and give them a brain break. [The kids] have as many Zoom calls as we do,” Quintel shares.
Bryan and Ruth
Bryan and Ruth’s home in South Charlotte is full. Their two daughters — one in high school, one in college — plus three other college students are all sharing space and internet bandwidth. When the pandemic forced Howard University and North Carolina A&T State University to close their campuses, Bryan and Ruth were the closest options for their friends’ kids.
“It works because we’ve established, and continue to tweak, house rules,” Bryan said. “Ruth and I have moved our AMC movie night indoors. The deck in the backyard is the go-to social distancing space if someone needs a break.”
Larry and Sasha
Essential worker Larry is an engineer while freelancer Sasha is a busy stay-at-home mom of their two sons. Typically, the kids balance school with soccer practice, swimming practice and library trips. Now, soccer practice has moved to backyard drills and swimming workouts happen without getting in the water. There’s also the adjusted bedtime with schools closed.
Sasha’s silver lining, “I’ve been able to take a break…I leave dishes in the sink a little longer, bath time is a little bit later, and I’m allowing myself to finally slow down.”
She says working out consistently with her husband has helped her to stay sane.
Tamra and Akadius
With a 10-month-old daughter, Tamra and her husband Akadius allowed their child’s caregiver, Chelsea, to move in during the lockdown. The couple was already working from home before the pandemic, but Tamra has been on call weekends and evenings as an essential worker in banking.
“I wish this wasn’t how it came to be,” Tamra says.
But, one of the unexpected upsides of sheltering in place is that they’ve been home for many of their daughter’s developmental milestones. Tamra, Akadius and Chelsea were all there when the little one took her first steps.
Talaya and Kerrick
Nail salon owner Talaya says this is the first time since her teen years that she’s taken a vacation for longer than a week. Her husband Kerrick is an essential worker for the county, so he continues to go to work.
She reflected, “This experience has been a real eye-opener for me. What do I actually like to do with my time, when I have the time?”
Working from home was already the norm for Jameka, a full-time entrepreneur. However, sheltering in place has affected her clients, many who are creatives who had to cancel their spring events.
“I’ve had to pivot quickly to help them go virtual and make sure their messaging isn’t tone-deaf,” Jameka explained.
It’s not all work for Jameka. She makes time for virtual happy hours, FaceTime convos, and pruning roses left by her deceased mother.
Megan and Terry
Getting a handle on meal prep has been the hardest part for Megan, who typically works in an office.
“I feel like I’m cooking around the clock, and grocery shopping has become a two-hour situation,” she said.
As a precaution, she wears a mask to grocery stores then disinfects everything before putting items away.
Megan and Terry describe themselves as outgoing people, so they came up with creative ways to safely spend time with family and friends. A quick walk to visit Megan’s mother as she sits on her porch. Meals with friends as they sit in separate cars in the driveway.
“Life goes on, and you find ways to connect with people, six feet apart,” Megan said.
*Editor’s note: Some families didn’t want to share full names. For continuity, only first names of adults were used.