Community

Wednesday, April 22: The spring announced itself with warmth and sunlight as the planet celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. But many spent the day indoors, with storefronts shuttered, more than 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and tens of thousands out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

A sign on the lawn near the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion in response to the coronavirus pandemic

According to many models, Kentucky’s COVID-19 related deaths were close to peaking. Schools and restaurants were closed, in-person worship services were banned, and everyone was adjusting to the new normal.

On this one Wednesday, WFPL and KyCIR reporters interviewed more than two dozen people. We also asked community members to record themselves, and send us audio diaries documenting their day. From a church in Louisville’s East End to the Salvation Army downtown to a horse trainer 700 miles away, here’s what April 22 sounded like.

5 a.m.: A Student, Coming Off A Night Shift At UPS

Parker Malatesta is a junior political science major at University of Louisville, and his work as an overnight package handler at UPS pays for his tuition.

Usually, his post-work routine is showering and then winding down by reading a book or watching a show. Today, he’s thinking about sleep, and the research paper on China he needs to finish afterwards.

“It’s actually finals week, this week,” he says. “Once I finish [the paper], I only have a few more papers and an exam on Saturday, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

But despite all the craziness — work, school, a pandemic — Malatesta is feeling good. His classes are scheduled for the summer and fall semesters, and he’s on track to graduate in December.

“I’m feeling empowered and also very excited for what lies ahead. I think it’s important in this time to remain hopeful and optimistic and just know that there are brighter days ahead. We’re going to get through this. You know, we’re all we’re all in this together.” — Eleanor Klibanoff

8:30 a.m.: 700 Miles South Of Churchill Downs, A Horse Trainer Waits

Tom Amoss should be in Louisville, with his horses, preparing for Churchill Downs’ spring meet. Last year, a horse he trained, Serengeti Empress, won the Kentucky Oaks.

Courtesy Tom Amoss

But this morning, Amoss is against the rail at the Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, watching his horses during a morning workout.

“There’s about 50 horses on the racetrack right now, exercising,” he says.

Today, Amoss is waiting to find out what’s next, and whether he can ship his horses up to Louisville soon for the spring meet. The Kentucky Oaks and Derby have already been pushed back to early September, and the spring meet would later be scheduled to start May 16. But on this day in late April, Amoss is still waiting to find out how it would proceed.

“Right now at the Fair Grounds, there are about 500 horses stabled on the backside that are exercising on a daily basis, waiting in limbo basically to find out when Churchill’s going to start,” he says. “So normally if we were in Louisville right now, we would be training the horses in the same fashion. But truly, the horse race world and the sports world would be coming into the Louisville and paying attention to our sport.”

At this point, Amoss said he’s very much still in limbo. He didn’t get funding in the first round of the federal Paycheck Protection Program; now, he’s applied for the second round. If that’s unsuccessful, he may have to cut some jobs.

“It’s very, very difficult to try to take a stance in the ‘going back to work’ versus the health of our nation,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a right answer, but I battle with it every day.” Erica Peterson

9 a.m.: National Guard Members Prepare To Fight A New Enemy

Public Affairs Officer Gus Lafontaine gestures around the Kentucky National Guard’s new operations center: each side of the hall is marked by basketball hoops, and fluorescent lights hanging from the rafters.

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

The Kentucky National Guard’s field missions are run out of this nondescript gymnasium in Frankfort, and it has activated more than 800 service members across the Commonwealth. They’re helping at food banks, drive thru testing sites and at some hospitals. Like many of the people who serve in Kentucky’s National Guard, Lafontaine is a citizen soldier who has a business running two child care centers and a private school in Madison County. They’re closed right now, but he’s still got a lot on his plate. He and his wife have five children, and he drives back and forth an hour each day to the operations center.

“I’m not just a soldier, I’m a dad and a husband too. So I’ve got to be able to do that job,” Lafontaine says.

Every morning about two dozen Guard members at the center join in a call with operations across the state, providing updates, sharing information and making adjustments as guidelines and missions change. Take, for example, food banks.

“A part of that not a lot of people realize, is that their volunteer base was senior citizens, the vulnerable population,” Lafontaine says.

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Officer Gus Lafontaine.

So, the Guard has stepped in to fill these gaps and provide help where they can — even when that means staffing state call centers. But not everyone was thrilled to hear about the guard activation in Kentucky. Lafontaine says some were worried about the declaration of martial law. 

“That fear has subsided in the last several weeks,” he said.

Lafontaine, as well as many of the other Guard members in the center that day, say they feel fortunate to be able to serve Kentucky in a time of crisis.

“I have to say that I’m very excited to be able to serve the commonwealth of Kentucky right now as we battle an enemy that we’ve never fought before,” Lafontaine says.

Today, and for the foreseeable future, these men and women will remain on a different sort of front line. Ryan Van Velzer

10:30 a.m.: As Food Inequality Grows, An Activist Shops For Her Community

This morning, the parking lot at the East End Costco is busy but quiet. Shoppers are being let in one at a time, and employees are spraying sanitizer on carts outside the front entrance. Many people are wearing masks. Chanelle Helm, the core lead organizer for Black Lives Matter Louisville, is on her cell phone, talking with a community member who’s worried she’ll lose her home, even though evictions are legally halted.

“You can’t get set on the streets,” Helm tells the caller. “You can’t even evict anybody right now and she’s dead wrong for trying to threaten you for eviction, and you don’t have any income. You see what I’m sayin’?”

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Chanelle Helm of Black Lives Matter Louisville takes a call before going to shop for neighbors at Costco on April 22, 2020.

Helm says none of the usual problems have slowed down during the pandemic, but she wishes they would. She and her collaborators are still helping people navigate housing issues, but she says the COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated food access challenges, too.

Some Costco shoppers come out with carts piled high with food supplies. A few lucky ones have quarantine gold: multipacks of disinfecting wipes. Others balance tall plants destined for their outdoor spaces.

Chanelle Helm can’t believe what they’re buying.

“People are really buying flowers, it’s just so surreal…” she trails off.

Since the pandemic struck Louisville, Black Lives Matter is trying to help West End residents who struggle to get groceries by ramping up an existing program to get food and supplies to families in need. By this day, their GoFundMe is up to about $9,000 on GoFundMe. Helm is shopping for six families.

Helm describes the situation in the majority-black West End not as a food desert, but as a food apartheid. She’s come to Costco from her home in Shively, south of the West End.

“You only have like two major grocery stores, three like smaller chains, and then you’ve got a whole host of Family Dollars and Dollar Generals,” she says of the West End. “Telling 50,000 people to hunker down is going to cause a strain on those stores, and it has.”

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Reporter Amina Elahi interviews Chanelle Helm of Black Lives Matter at Costco on April 22, 2020

Plus, she says the food there is limited and over-processed — or, in her words, “triflin’ as hell.” That’s why she likes the big box stores, which let her shop in bulk for several families and individuals at a time.

Helm says quarantine itself is a privilege. Not everyone has the money to buy enough food to sustain them for two weeks indoors.

“They don’t even have the money to feed their families or get cleaning supplies or to hunker down,” she says.

She leaves with bleach, toilet paper and paper towels; ground beef, oranges and snacks; Zyrtec, Tylenol, and multivitamins; diapers, wipes and more.

Transportation and funds are limited for a lot of the people she’s helping. But Helm’s Jeep and Costco membership got the job done, for now. Amina Elahi

10:45 a.m.:  Kids, Parents Make The Trek To School Feeding Sites

Around 10:45 a.m outside Phillis Wheatley Elementary, you can hear the rumble of the Edwards family’s plastic wagon growing louder as Louisville dad Del Edwards tows his two youngest children towards the school to pick up lunch. In the wagon are two-year-old Sa’Riyah and five-year-old DJ. Phillis Wheatley Elementary, in Louisville’s California neighborhood, is one of the sites where Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is handing out food to low-income students.

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Wheatley Elementary is one of several JCPS schools operating as an emergency feeding site for children under the age of 18.

Edwards says he’s lost work due to the pandemic. His wife is able to work from home, but it’s tough with the kids around.

“That’s why I got to keep them out. Let her work! I take them out, let her work — stop!” he moves quickly to stop Sa’Riyah as she tries to climb out of the wagon. 

“See, she’s already doing crazy stuff,” Edwards says. “But yeah, while she works I take them out so they can burn some energy.” 

Edwards’ family is one of thousands in Louisville that normally relies on JCPS for at least one hot meal a day through the federal National School Lunch program. More than 60,000 JCPS students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch because their families are low-income. To keep food service going during the pandemic, the district gives out shelf-stable food and milk three days a week at sites around town.

Edwards takes two large bags of food from school nutrition workers and places one in each child’s lap. Then he rolls the wagon back down the sidewalk towards home.

Later, another dad, Mike Jones, pulls up in a big van with his wife and five kids.

Jess Clark | wfpl.org

Louisville dad Mike Jones picked up meals for his five kids at Phillis Wheatley Elementary school in Louisville’s California neighborhood on April 22, 2020.

Jones had a job at a warehouse for an HVAC company; his employer was deemed essential and allowed to continue operating. But Jones is diabetic — putting him at risk of complications from COVID-19.

“I had to take a layoff because I couldn’t take a chance being there and then coming back home and stuff like that,” he says. Two of his children have asthma.

Jones loads the bags of food into the van. His wife, Victoria Jones, is in the passenger seat. She’s about to graduate with her degree in early childhood education. But right now she’s helping her own kids, from kindergarten to seventh trade, with their instruction.

“I don’t know much at all about all those other grades,” she says. “But I’m learning.”

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Reporter Jess Clark interviews a parent at Phillis Wheatley Elementary School on April 22, 2020.

Teaching kids while they’re home is also a concern for 18-year-old Erica Young. She’s at Phillis Wheatley picking up schoolwork for her siblings: sixth grader Kisaya and seventh grader Samaj. In addition to food, the district also provides instructional packets for each grade level at its meal sites.

Young graduated high school last year. She’s trying to get into college at the moment, she says, but it’s hard right now.

“Everything is closed,” she says — including the Kentucky Youth Career Center, which was helping her with her application.

“You got to come back in May, and do this and that,” she sighs.

Right now she works at a hospital doing cleaning and transport. She’s getting paid, but she’s scared all the time.

“I been in a lot of corona-rooms, believe it or not,” she says. “They make me put on this big blue suit with this mask. It’s scary, it really is.”

In the backseat, Samaj is holding a basketball in his lap. At first, he says he’s glad to be out of school. But then again, there’s a lot he and Kisaya miss, like their friends, teachers and gym class.

By the end of the afternoon, JCPS declared it a record day for food distribution. Altogether, the district gave out more than 49,000 breakfasts and lunches to local families, getting them through another couple of meals before the food sites open up again on Friday. Jess Clark

11:00 a.m.: A Folk Art Flourishes In A Local Living Room

Diana Dinicola is dancing flamenco on her back deck in Louisville’s Clifton neighborhood.

Dinicola, the co-founder of Flamenco Louisville, is running through the dances with her husband, guitarist Paul Carney. They’ve taken to rehearsing here, outdoors, while sheltering at home. Their wood deck makes for decent acoustics as she rhythmically stomps her feet. Dinicola also, at times, pauses from dancing to sing along with Carney’s playing.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Diana Dinicola, of Flamenco Louisville, rehearses a song with her husband and guitarist, Paul Carney, on the back deck of their home on April 22, 2020.

Today they’re getting ready for a Facebook Live performance through Kentucky Performing Arts.

“We’re gonna be in the front room,” Dinicola says.

“It looks like a film set in there because one part of the room looks normal and everything else looks like chaos,” Carney adds.

Their initial thought was to do it on their deck, “but there are a lot of things going on out there.”

In the age of coronavirus, artists’ living rooms have become their venues, projected to their virtual audiences through computer screens.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Diana Dinicola, of Flamenco Louisville, along with her husband and guitarist, Paul Carney, rehearse for a #KPAatHome Facebook Live performance on the back deck of their home on April 22, 202

Despite the hassle of getting their living room ready, Dinicola says it’s kind of fitting.

“Flamenco, as an art form, it started as a folk art… It was something that people did within family units,” she says. “The whole idea of flamenco as a theatrical form in a proscenium stage is a 20th century invention… It started at home and so now we’re doing it at home and that feels OK, that’s pretty authentic.” Stephanie Wolf

12:00 p.m.: A Coronavirus Skeptic Adjusts To A New Room At The Salvation Army

The cafeteria at the Salvation Army on Brook Street in Old Louisville has cleared out, and Ben Middleton is headed up to his makeshift room.

Middleton is a former Marine and was recently homeless. A few weeks ago he got into a transitional housing program with the Salvation Army.

Usually, Middleton sleeps in a bunk alongside several other men in a large, barracks-style room. But now, as the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the men have been split up. Middleton’s room is an old office with white, concrete walls. There’s a desk, a small metal chair and a twin bed.

“It’s not much,” Middleton says. “But it’s comfortable.”

Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Ben Middleton in his room in the Salvation Army on Brook Street.

Middleton, 62, wears dark wire-rimmed glasses and keeps his gray beard trimmed short. He doesn’t wear gloves or a mask. At this point, there’s been at least one case of COVID-19 here at the Salvation Army, but he isn’t too worried. Rather, he’s irritated at the disruption the virus is causing.

“I think the lock down is overrated,” he says. “It feels like they’re telling us to not be human anymore.”

Middleton is a big fan of Thomas Jefferson, and far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. He spends a lot of his day reading far-right websites, and he thinks the government is using the coronavirus to control people.

“We Americans are not about being controlled and yanked around like a yo-yo,” he says.

Middleton thinks the virus is no worse than the common flu — or H1N1, which killed 18,000 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010. But, he’s wrong. Leading scientists and disease experts have debunked those claims.

Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Ben Middleton

Elsewhere at the Salvation Army, it’s clear that other people are heeding the warnings.

Gwyn Brents, a case manager, wears a cloth mask and plastic gloves and carries with her disinfectant wipes and spray as she readies to hand out meals to residents in the family shelter.

“This is just different with the pandemic,” she says. “People are concerned and worried, they’re not sure what’s going to happen next. I’ve got families still waiting on unemployment.”

A crisis here at the Salvation Army is not anything new, even if the scope of it is. And the day’s work must go on. Jacob Ryan

2:07 p.m.: A 5th Grader Enjoys The Slower Pace Of Life

In the early afternoon, Sacred Heart Model School fifth-grader Sofia Cadolini is sitting in her room at home, surrounded by books and working on schoolwork. .

““Everything is now electronic for school,” Sofia says. “I’m always seeing my friends on FaceTime and not in real life,” she says. “And it’s just like, I’m always home.”

Sofia’s family owns ROC Restaurant, in the Highlands. Later, after she finishes schoolwork she’ll go there with her parents to help them prepare take-out orders. But the tables and bar will be empty.

“It’s really weird not seeing anybody in my family’s restaurant,” she said.

But it’s not all bad. The “busy, busy, busy” lifestyle her family led before the coronavirus pandemic has given way to more time spent together around the house and the dining room table. Sofia started taking walks with her mother. S he’s enjoying the slower pace.

“It’s really put me in a calm mood because I had so many activities and stuff,” she says. “Now I just feel like I’m super calm and super chilled out, and I think it was a good break. But I wish I could go outside more.” Jess Clark

2:30 p.m.: Amid A COVID-19 Outbreak, A Moment Of Celebration At Treyton Oak Towers

The sun is shining, and a handful of people are wearing colorful masks and holding bunches of balloons outside Treyton Oak Towers.

It’s a nice moment near the end of a difficult month for the senior living facility in Old Louisville: at this point, 29 residents and 14 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Eleven have died. But today, there’s a celebration.

Jared Bennett | wfpl.org

Bill Latta is wheeled out by an aide at Treyton Oak Towers on April 22, 2020 to celebrate his 100th birthday.

The crowd is gathered in front of the building to sing for Bill Latta on his 100th birthday. Many of the well-wishers are members of the First Unitarian Church, where Latta has been a member since 1961.

Just after 2:30, an aide pushes Bill Latta in a wheelchair through the double doors and into the courtyard.

“Can you wave at your adoring fans?” she asks.

There are cheers and claps. And then the assembled crowd sings “Happy Birthday.”

Rev. Lori Kyle is leading the singing from six feet away.

“As soon as we have the opportunity, we’re going to be here, and we’re going to celebrate with you. But for now, just know that we love you,” she tells Latta. “Everybody at the church is so excited, and everybody sends their love.”

It’s also Earth Day, and Kyle says it’s a fitting holiday for Latta’s 100th.

“Bill was one of the pioneers at our congregation for advocating for solar panels,” Kyle says. “He and his wife Martha were the first ones to donate and have that done.”

Two dozen other households from the parish followed their lead. Kyle says Latta even started pushing Treyton Oak Towers to use more environmentally friendly lights once he moved in.

“So it’s such a beautiful thing on this beautiful Earth Day that this man is turning 100 years old, at this particular institution. It’s just a really good feel good story and we’re just so happy for him.” Jared Bennett

3 p.m.: Matching Helpers With Those Who Need Help

Erin Hinson is on her front porch in the Shelby Park neighborhood, talking about her volunteer program. Hinson is the founder of Louisville COVID-19 Match, which she started in March as the pandemic began to hit the city.

This morning, Hinson says she fielded a call from an 80-year-old man in the 40272 ZIP code.

“He was kind of frantic,” she says. “He had a can of beans for dinner last night, ran out of food.”

The concept is pretty simple: people sign up either as someone who’s relatively low-risk and is interested in helping others, or someone who is high risk and needs help. Then, Hinson matches them, helping elderly people and people with underlying conditions get groceries and medicine without leaving the house.

Ryan Van Velzer | wfpl.org

Erin Hinson, the founder of COVID Match Louisville.

So far, they’ve matched nearly 250 volunteers with 250 people who need assistance in the community. But the program doesn’t have a ton of volunteers in the area where the 80-year-old man needed help with food. So Hinson called Metro Councilman David Yates to see if he could help find a volunteer out there.

 

“They were super helpful in not only getting him connected with the Meals on Wheels program again, but also David just was like, ‘I’ll be his volunteer.’ So now Councilman Yates has a match, and he was going to run to the grocery store and make sure he had food.”

That was a happy ending. But Hinson says she’s become increasingly familiar with the sound of desperation. And sometimes, the calls to Louisville COVID-19 Match need more than just a healthy buddy who can make a grocery run.

“Sometimes people are just hungry,” Hinson says.

This isn’t what she’s set up for, but she tries to find a way to help anyway.

“This is my city, these are my people and if you are hungry I’m going to make sure you have food somehow,” she says. — Ryan Van Velzer

3:20 p.m.: A Brother And Sister Prepare To Talk To Their Father, In The Hospital With COVID-19

For the last month, Mark Saunders has been battling COVID-19 at Norton Audubon Hospital. For the 40 years before that, he was a vascular technician at that same hospital.

Courtesy Alicia Marie

Mark Saunders (second from left) and his three children (from left): Alicia Marie, Mark Saunders II and Anthony Gallahar in August 2019 at a celebration of Saunders’ 40 years at Norton Audubon Hospital.

This afternoon, his children, Anthony Gallahar and Alicia Marie, are getting ready to talk to Saunders via video chat. He spent 17 days in the ICU, and more than 13 of those days he spent on a ventilator, Marie says. They weren’t allowed to visit.

“For me, personally, that’s the most challenging part,” Gallahar says.

Marie agrees. She’s also her father’s power of attorney, so she’s fielding calls around the clock from doctors and nurses, seeking consent for different procedures.

“So it’s been stressful for me to have to make decisions for his health, and doing the best that I can to keep my brothers in the loop,” she says. “So then we can vote on things and discuss things.”

But even though she’s celebrating her father’s progress, Marie says there’s still a long road ahead. They’ve heard of cases where people are the same after they come off the ventilator, or they’ve healed up and come right home. They know that’s not their father’s path.

“At this point, it will be a month in the hospital this week, and he still has a minimum of two more weeks, inpatient,” she says. “So it’s a longer journey for us than it is for others. So even though we do celebrate that, yes, he is corona-free, it’s a daily gradual thing. And he’s still battling the effects of the virus.”

One thing she’s thankful for: even while Marie and Gallahar can’t be with their father in person, his work family is. She says colleagues visit Saunders throughout the day — and record videos for his family. Last week, they even lined the hallway cheering as he was moved from the ICU to a regular hospital room.

“They’ve definitely been there to support him as an extension of us,” Marie says. “So that has definitely been a blessing to us that he is where he works. He’s with his family.” — Erica Peterson

3:30 p.m.: A Ballet Dancer Stays In Shape At Home With Dance, Yard Work

Over in the Clifton Heights neighborhood, Louisville Ballet dancer Justin Hogan is in his backyard. It’s a good size and very green. A few trees in the back corners provide a nice patch of shade, the perfect spot to shelter from the bright afternoon sun.

Stephanie Wolf | wfpl.org

Louisville Ballet dancer Justin Hogan dances in his backyard on April 22, 2020. He’s been taking online dance classes and doing yard work to stay active while sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

He’s been staying in shape by taking virtual dance classes, which Louisville Ballet artistic director Robert Curran conducts every morning.

Hogan has also found another, very satisfying, form of physical activity: yard work.

He and his girlfriend, who is also a dancer with the ballet, recently bought this house. Hogan says the backyard was a big draw, even if it needed some TLC. They have more time to spruce up the yard, since their work at the ballet is on hold.

Hogan says it was devastating to not get to perform the final shows of the ballet’s season.

“It was also reassuring in a sense,” he says. “It was absolutely the correct call, not only for the community’s safety, but for our safety.”

By nearly 4 p.m., he’s hauled hundreds of pounds of gravel, got after some weeds and took care of a bothersome tree trunk, a relic of the house’s previous owners.

“What they ended up leaving is a part of the trunk that’s about six feet high,” Hogan says.

He decided against getting a chainsaw and instead got an axe. It would be more fun, he figured — and a better workout. Stephanie Wolf

4 p.m.: A Pastor Preps To-Go Communion Kits For Home Worship

It’s 4 p.m. and the sanctuary at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Eastern Jefferson County is silent. Sunday service and Wednesday night Bible study have moved online due to the pandemic.

Eleanor Klibanoff | wfpl.org

The sign at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church on April 22, 2020.

But today, Pastor Louis Humes will get to see some members of his church community — from a distance — as they come to pick up their Sunday supplies.

Humes is handing out hymnals so people can follow along with services at home, and little do-it-yourself Holy Communion kits of juice and wafers to take home.

Eleanor Klibanoff | wfpl.org

Take-home Holy Communion kits.

Humes never thought he’d be preaching to an iPad in an empty church, let alone teaching people how to give themselves communion. But, he says, the first communions were all taken at home.

“There were no churches, no pews, no pulpits,” he says. “That’s actually what I’ll remind our church this Sunday is you’re actually doing something closer to what the first Christians did 2,000 years ago than you usually do when you gather in our church.”

Humes calls himself an “old school Southern Baptist.” But so much has changed for him and his congregation in the last few weeks, not least of all his views on the pandemic.

“My first reaction is that this was an overreach,” he says. “The very first week that we were dealing with this and they said groups of less than 50, we went ahead and met. Then I started doing some research and realized, this really isn’t just another case of the flu.”

Since then, he says, it’s mostly just been him and the accompanist on Sundays. And on a Wednesday, like this one, he’s alone, preparing for Bible study.  He and his wife ordered a backdrop that looks like bookshelves to make the church basement look a bit more homey, after he got some good-natured complaints about the bleak white cement walls.

Eleanor Klibanoff | wfpl.org

Pastor Louis Humes of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church

But he says he hasn’t managed to replicate the free-wheeling Bible study discussions he’s cultivated over the years. On a normal Wednesday, the conversation runs free. He prepares a lesson but rarely uses it.

Now, he’s preparing a lesson he’ll have to actually use while he waits for more folks to drop by for their DIY Communion kits. When they do, he’ll offer them a wave, a prayer, and remind them to check the church’s Facebook page for the latest updates. — Eleanor Klibanoff

4:05 p.m.: A Senegalese Immigrant Contemplates Her Changed Life

Mame Marame Diop is watching coronavirus news on TV. Diop has been in Louisville since last July.

“I left Senegal to have a better life,” she says.

Diop, 42, says she speaks just a little bit of English, though she noted she speaks French much better. She says her days now are quite simple, especially without a job or the ability to visit the offices of the Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

“During the pandemic, most of my time I am staying at home,” she says. “Sometimes, I’m cooking. One time per week I go to the store to buy the food. Sometimes I read… I have a class online, Tuesday and Thursday.”

Overall, she says, her life is very changed as she remains home. But she still sees America as a country of liberty. — Ryland Barton

4:30 p.m.: A Hospice Vet, Helping Families Grieve While Social Distancing

Louisville hospice veterinarian Courtney Bennett is sitting in her car after a house call. She has just left an appointment where she guided a woman’s dog to “a gentle death.”

Most veterinarian’s offices are limiting human visitors or even banning them from their offices to keep their staffs safe. Bennett doesn’t have a physical office, and she only offers care in people’s homes. When she can, she’s moving appointments to yards and porches. But you can’t guide an inside cat to a gentle death in the yard if he’s never been outside before, so she takes it case by case and sometimes, still has to go inside.

On this afternoon, the sun is shining, but not too warm. There’s a light breeze. Bennett performed the procedure outside; in the middle, someone began to mow the lawn next door. But it hardly mattered.

“Most importantly, the dog was able to be at home and have a very peaceful death,” she says.

It’s different from Bennett’s usual routine, when if she senses a client could use a hug, she offers one. Now she and her clients navigate the awkwardness of wearing masks, and together letting go of a beloved pet without physical contact.

“It is hard when I approach and I see people scatter, and I know they’re worried about my safety and their safety,” Bennett says.

Bennett’s practice is all house calls, and due to the nature of her work, her patients are  terminally ill and dying pets. She thinks a lot about all of the people that are dying alone, and the family members that don’t get the chance to say goodbye.

And she’s grateful that she can still at least help animals have good deaths at home, with their people by their sides. Kate Howard

5 p.m.: A Bodega Manager, Newly Appreciating Human Interactions

Emily Ravenscraft is getting ready to close up the bodega in the Logan Street Market for the day. She says there’s been a steady stream of people visiting the shop in Shelby Park, both to pick up assorted groceries and doing their full shopping trips here. And she’s viewing her role in a whole new way since the pandemic started.

“I actually had somebody just an hour ago pop out of here and say, ‘Thank you for being my only human interaction for the day!’” she says. “And I was like, ‘You’re welcome!’”

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

At the Logan Street Market Bodega, manager Emily Ravenscraft pairs a beer with Gov. Beshear’s daily briefing. She suggests that grocery store workers have become the new bartenders for people without any other social interactions.

“In a strange way, I’ve actually said this a few times to some friends, I feel like I’m the new bartender. People aren’t sitting here at my counter talking, but as we’re checking out we’re just kind of checking in with our days and how we’re doing. It’s definitely changed.”

Another difference she’s seen? More cooking at home. As people’s routines have changed, they’re making more of their food. For Ravenscraft that means more business.

“A lot of people, I’m proud of them, they’re eating a lot of veggies.”

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

Reporter Eleanor Klibanoff interviews Emily Ravenscraft in the Logan Street Market Bodega on April 22, 2020.

At the end of her shift today, Ravenscraft is planning to spend it as she does most days: cleaning up and drinking a beer while listening to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s nightly address. It’s time for Beers With Beshear. — Eleanor Klibanoff

5:01 p.m: Kentucky State Capitol Briefing Room

Thousands were watching along online as Beshear’s daily briefing began at 5 p.m.

He developed a cadence weeks ago, and he sticks to it — first, reassurance. “We’ll get through this. We’ll get through this together.”

Cue to the graphic: 10 steps to fight COVID-19.

Next is #TeamKentucky social media posts: today, it’s grandparents meeting their new grandchild through glass, the Supreme Court of Kentucky holding oral arguments by video conference, the Lexington church Beshear grew up in, lighting its building green to honor the coronavirus dead.

Tonight, Beshear announces the first of many baby steps toward the new normal:  Phase 1 of the gradual reopening of the economy, starting with some health care. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer speaks of the importance of expanded testing, especially in Louisville, where Black residents are about 23% of the population and about 33% of the COVID-19 fatalities.

The governor announces the day’s tally: 196 new cases, and 14 new deaths. He says he believes we are flattening the curve. We are plateaued. But we are also still being tested.

“You are passing the test of humanity — but the test isn’t over yet. We need you to keep working just as hard. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Every day we step closer to it. But we’ve gotta keep walking, or as we said the other day, just keep swimming.”

Our new normal will persist, the governor says, until we get a vaccine or treatment. Until then, he says to the camera, the test is caring for one another.

“I don’t know if they’ll call us the greatest generation, but maybe they’ll call us the kindest generation.” — Kate Howard