Eyewitness: Coping With the Pandemic in Kentucky

Leo with one of the signs he created to express gratitude for healthcare workers in his Louisville community

Editor’s note: During the coronavirus pandemic, our 50 Kid Reporters around the world are covering the news from home. We’ll be sharing their individual experiences on our Kids Press blog in the weeks ahead. Stay safe! 

In my home state of Kentucky, our first confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was reported on March 6. Later that day, Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency. A week later, schools were closed, and my family began self-isolation.

Currently, the only businesses open are those deemed by the governor as essential. Even those businesses, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, have distancing rules in place. Kentuckians also have been ordered not to leave the state. If we do so, we will be required to self-quarantine for 14 says upon our return.

Luckily, the spring weather has been mild, with several pretty days to walk outside or work in the yard. Still, I am upset that I’m missing the end of my eighth-grade school year. In the fall, I move to a new school, and I’m sad that I likely won’t have any more school days with my current classmates.

There are other things that are disappointing, but they are unimportant when compared with keeping people healthy and trying to flatten the curve, or slow the spread of the virus.


Healthcare workers around the United States are facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in their battle against COVID-19. 


Prior to last Thursday, my family had only left the house for groceries or take-out food. On Thursday, my mom had to go to her oncology appointment because she has been battling cancer. She has to receive medication in the doctor’s office once a month.

My mom was nervous about going to the appointment and worried that she would bring the virus back to our family. Her oncologist’s office is at the local hospital that is treating many of the state’s COVID-19 patients.

There is a National Guard presence in front of each hospital now, and fever stations at each entrance. We have gotten to know many of the employees at the hospital during her treatment. We know them by first name, and during normal times, are happy when we see them.

When my mom got home from her appointment, I asked about our friends who work at the hospital. She described how different their mood is during the pandemic. They were currently healthy, but under tremendous stress and scared that they might become infected.


Leo has been keeping an audio diary about changes in daily life during the coronavirus pandemic.


After talking with my mom, I organized my friends to make posters expressing gratitude for the hospital workers. We placed the posters along the entrance to, and inside, the hospital’s parking garage.

The workers were appreciative. Now, my friends and I are creating more posters for individuals who are sacrificing their own well-being to keep us healthy and safe.

Since the world can feel uncertain and scary right now, I’ve been trying to find ways to give others an unexpected smile. No one’s day was ever made worse by a kind word, good joke, or beautiful rainbow.

For my neighbors, I’ve made and hung colorful ornaments on the tree in my front yard and put up a sign with jokes I’ve written. For kids like me stuck at home wanting to feel useful, I am continually looking for ways to support our communities, while still practicing social distancing.


Leo makes a sign to thank healthcare workers who have been sacrificing their well-being to protect others. 


I also have been keeping an audio diary documenting my experiences during the pandemic. I describe the things I’m doing at home and the status of the pandemic at a local, national, and international level.

It’s interesting to go back and listen to the recordings and think that terms like PPE (personal protective equipment) and social distancing (staying at least six feet away from others) were not part of my vocabulary a month ago. Those first recordings also involve a lot of questions about how we have allowed this to happen. Much of the suffering we are seeing in our country and the world seems preventable had we been more prepared to handle a pandemic.

I spend the rest of my time in virtual school, walking my dog, talking to friends, building with LEGO, and drawing in my sketchbook. For my school assignments, I’ve tried to put extra flavor into my writing since this is the only communication I have with my teachers. I’m proud of the creative writing pieces I’ve done and think they’ve made my teachers laugh, which makes me happy. 


Leo and his family often joke about what their dog thinks about events in their lives. Now they wonder what he would think about the pandemic. 

Photos courtesy of the author