An Unprecedented Pandemic: A Lookback to Three Years Ago

Photo of a white n95 grade face mask against a mint green background with the Oakland Voices logo in the lower left corner.

Three years ago this month, we went into a lockdown. Schools and many workplaces closes. Restaurants shut down. What many thought was a short-term situation that would last maybe a few weeks — or a few months, tops — turned into several years.

At Oakland Voices, we have written over 180 stories related to the COVID pandemic since March of 2020. Stories range from updates on new health guidelines, to interviews with OUSD teachers and parents, to stories using data to reveal health inequities. We also launched a new series called Black Voices in the Town, which focuses on the impact of COVID-19 as a public health crisis for African Americans who live, work, and worship in Alameda County.

Oakland Voices Co-Director Rasheed Shabazz was the first local journalist to share that East Oakland had been hit hardest by infection. Map shows East Oakland hit hardest by COVID-19 (April 23, 2020).

Our alumna and correspondent, Debora Gordon, interviewed teachers at the beginning of the pandemic about “zoom school:” Talk of the Town: OUSD Teachers in a Distance Learning World (Part 2) (November 18, 2020). Later, she interviewed more teachers and administrators when schools re-opened for in-person learning: Back to School in Oakland: Perspectives from a Kindergarten, 3rd Grade Teacher, and Librarian (October 13, 2021).

We workshopped photo essays with students at Oakland School for the Arts, and published some of their essays at Oakland Voices. Distance Learning, Halfway Across the World: Photo Essay By Cadence Patrick (March 16, 2021).

We continued to cover arts, culture, and neighborhood stories, such as Tuesday Night Neighborhood Concert with Grammy-nominated Latin Jazz Artist in Oakland During Shelter-at-Home Order (April 9, 2020), a story by alumna Katharine Davies Samway. Alumna Brandy Collins wrote about how artists adapted during the pandemic in stories such as How One Local Filmmaker Debuted First Film and Comic Book During Pandemic (July 15, 2022).

As a part of Black Voices in the Town, we talked to outdoor enthusiasts. Two Black Outdoor Enthusiasts Share Experiences of ‘Making Space’ During a Pandemic, by Oakland Voices alumna Iris M. Crawford (February 1, 2022)

It can’t be understated how the pandemic has shifted our lives. Many lives were lost, creating waves of grief within families and communities. In Alameda County, 2,193 people have died from COVID, the second largest number in the Bay Area after Santa Clara County (See ABC7’s Bay Area COVID tracker).

We will continue to track and cover the pandemic, and other aspects of life in Oakland, taking a look at the health and well-being of our residents and workers.

We also want to take this opportunity to thank our readers, community, and supporters. We are glad you’re here.

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