The coronavirus took away routines and rituals, interrupting life as we knew it.

Nothing stays the same for long. What’s different about the past few weeks is the sheer density of change: Everything seems to be changing all the time, in ways most of us could never have planned for. It infuses all the conversations we have now, like a heavy black curtain. But what you see here are items that express the sheer force of change itself: Something turns, and we have no choice but to notice.

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Kaelyn Sheedy poses for a photo after being tested for the coronavirus on Feb. 28, while her sister wears a mask behind her. [Courtesy of Kaelyn Sheedy]

Kaelyn Sheedy was almost home from her trip to Europe when she woke in the middle of the night in her New York City hotel room with a fever and a wet cough. She called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ask if she should be tested for the coronavirus — the outbreak had just surged in Italy, one of the countries she’d visited. But the CDC, she said, told her to get on her flight home to Tampa. Two days later, she finally convinced health officials she should be tested; she posed for this photo that night. And two days after that, she became one of the first two people in Florida diagnosed with the coronavirus.

— Courtesy of Kaelyn Sheedy, Tampa

Related: Tampa’s first coronavirus patient emerges from isolation into a changed world

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A way to track these long days. [Courtesy of Christina Aikman]

“Between my routine with a 14-month-old and the schedule of my 90-year-old Grandma, it’s been pretty easy going one day to the next. The hardest part for us, besides not finding toilet paper at the store, is keeping track of the days. So I made us this little helper.”

— Submitted by Christina Aikman, St. Petersburg

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Haiku for the times

19 runs quiet

A snail finds its way across

The earth breathes ... at last

— Submitted by Tara Sheldon, Clearwater

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COVID-19’s crushing impact on small businesses was immediate. On March 26, the Gabber, a weekly community newspaper in Gulfport for 52 years, published its final issue. “This has been a truly unexpected turn of events,” owner-publishers Ken and Deb Reichart wrote in a letter to readers. “But, the reality of a suddenly dwindling revenue stream means that we can no longer continue to print the paper, or to support our colleagues in bringing you news. And while we remain hopeful for a future where the Gabber can continue, we don’t know when that will be.” The answer came weeks later, when a freelance writer made a deal to buy the Gabber.

— Jay Cridlin, Tampa Bay Times

Related: Gulfport Gabber will be back with a likely new owner

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April 1

A breeze tickles my toe-tops, moving past the sleeping dog, rustling his whiskers.

Clouds, like glaciers, slide westward. I hate to tell them the sickness lies there, too.

California nightmaring, the Empire State is on fire, and they say New Orleans is next.

Yet, I appreciate the beams of light escaping through the fleeing fluffs, warming my side.

Move along, and while you’re at it, please bring the end of April, for I have things to do in May.

— Submitted by Haley Busch, Tierra Verde

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Artist Louis Markoya's “The Virus.” [Courtesy of Louis Markoya]

The coronavirus “is the alien that has crippled the world by taking away what we know as being human, desiring love, and the touch of another,” artist Louis Markoya wrote of his painting “The Virus.” Markoya, who moved to St. Petersburg in January, presented the oil-on-canvas work in April as the first of a small series inspired by the pandemic.

— Submitted by Louis Markoya, St. Petersburg

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A 4-year-old looks over her grandmother's photo book. [Courtesy of Virginia Hokes]

“I usually visit my granddaughter, Anabella, every week. She is 4 years old, and we enjoy making art projects, cooking, taking trips to restaurants, libraries, museums or the zoo ... I have sent cards with stickers, a homemade photo book titled ‘I Wish I Could Play Outside!’ and many art projects.”

— Submitted by Virginia T. Hokes, Tampa

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When Lori Sheaffer and her boyfriend couldn't see each other, they both looked out their windows. [Courtesy of Lori Sheaffer]

On March 30, Lori Sheaffer’s boyfriend was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He was hospitalized at Moffitt Cancer Center, where he was undergoing treatment. Sheaffer and her boyfriend talk on the phone when he has the energy for it and share pictures of the moon when he doesn’t. They can both see it from their windows.

— Submitted by Lori Sheaffer, St. Petersburg

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The Surreal


For all the stories in the series, click here.