talk to victims and survivors has changed, particularly in places where resources have been affected by the virus. Staying with a family member may not be an option because of social distancing. Some safe shelters are not able to take people in.
creative. Can we help with hotel vouchers? Are there safe places nearby to park their car while they search for that next step?
if a contact is unable to get out, we talk about ways to stay safe while at home. “Is there a place in the house that you can go every day? Just to have five minutes to yourself, to think about all the things that you’ve done to get to this point. How strong you are, how resilient you are.”
contacts are really showing up for that validation. By just being there, by listening to their stories, we’re letting them know that we understand what they’re going through. We try to instill some semblance of hope in their situation.
that we do—as with any trauma work—definitely takes a toll. I’ve been amazed by our team’s resilience and how well we’ve stayed connected virtually. Having others around who can support you, who can be there for you, who can encourage you and lift you up, is very powerful. That’s always important, but even more so now.
—As told to S. R.
Georgia, was in the top five for cases per capita on the planet. We’re not New York. We’re a small town filled with farmers, and doctors and nurses from the hospital, and it’s a much simpler life. We got knocked down, and as a community we’re picking each other back up and continuing to fight.
I stood in front of fourteen monitors. I looked at those monitors, and I realized that all of those patients were going to die and there was nothing I could do. It was this overwhelming feeling of powerlessness.
other. We’re not supposed to, but we hug each other.
a patient today. I was walking down the hall to check on somebody’s ven
YOU BREAK YOUR ARM,
something. You have to be there for the people—they were there for me for twenty years. I just didn’t know what I was going to do. But sometimes that’s the start of the best ideas. You just have to make a decision to do it.
show for ten years, you just keep adding more stuff, getting slicker. The production value heightens. When I’m wearing a suit and makeup and all that stuff, I really feel like there’s a lot of phoniness, or stuff that can come across as phoniness. The audience is laughing, but maybe they’re just being polite. Maybe what I just said wasn’t funny, I don’t know. And maybe you tense up. I’m not really a stand-up comedian. I don’t want to tell funny stories.
peel it all back, it’s like, All right, who are you? It forces your brain to be creative in ways that I haven’t done in years. I have no crew, I have no staff here, I have no lighting. My wife is my director and my camera operator. I don’t know if it’s fight-or-flight, but your instinct takes over. It shows who you really are. It shows your character.
thing to this experience was New York after 9/11. I was on Saturday Night Live and I didn’t know what to do, where to turn, or whom to talk to. I remember going to the late-night hosts— I’d watch Conan, Jay Leno, David Letterman—to hear what they were saying. And I remember David Letterman had a great line about courage: that sometimes pretending to be courageous is just as good.
learned through this: My role is to be there for people in some way. I’m lucky to be in a position to maybe help someone get through this by giving their brain a little balance with all of the awful out there.
we end up with when this is over. The show will look different. Then again, it might feel just right.
if I can put on a suit again. I would feel odd coming out in a suit.
—As told to Matt Miller
began in this country, it was like, “Don’t worry, it’s only life-threatening for those who are high-risk. It’s just a bad flu for the rest of us.” In this critical time, when scarcity is a reality, you see the hierarchy. Certain groups are valued over others. This is the world that so many disabled and chronically ill people already live in. Our lives are still seen as expendable. Now the magnitude is much greater.
brought about changes to accessibility for things that disabled people have been advocating for forever. You see artists streaming performances. You see people working remotely. When disabled people asked for those very reasonable accommodations, we’ve been told, “You can’t do that. It’s too hard.” Twice I was invited to be on a panel at South by Southwest, and each time I said, “I don’t travel. I want to do this via Skype.” Both times I was told no. “There are too many issues.” That was the excuse!
for coming out of this pandemic is that we don’t return to the status quo. Many don’t realize that “normal” was actually not great for a lot of people. Just because all of the nondisabled people go back to work—or to Burning Man, or to Coachella—that doesn’t mean we should stop thinking about accessibility. —As told to Madison Vain
so hard is that no one with COVID can have visitors. I find that I’m doing a lot of calls to family members of COVID patients, because they’re not allowed to come in. That’s very emotionally draining on me, too. There’s sorrow. There’s grief. doing a spiritual assessment over the phone have definitely improved. I have had some really amazing conversations with patients. I called this young guy, in his twenties, who had COVID. Toward the end of our conversation, he was like, “I was not expecting this today. This was really good. Thank you so much.” We prayed together, and it was really meaningful for him—for someone to reach out and acknowledge his suffering and ask if he wanted to pray. where a gentleman who’d been married for over fifty years was only allowed to stay with his wife for an hour. [She didn’t have COVID-19.] I blessed her with holy water and said the Prayer of Commendation and provided spiritual support. He was at risk just by being in the hospital, but he had to say goodbye. We were on the elevator walking out of the hospital together, and he was like,
call us “essential,” you’ve got to think about our health. Our health is just as essential. country is playing catch-up now because we weren’t prepared—the same thing happened at the warehouse. In the middle of March, we actually had a party with a DJ and a popcorn machine. I was like, “Where’s the caution?” There was none. There was no safety. It was business as usual. my colleague tested positive. We were both supervisors, process assistants. There was no transparency. Management was told not to tell our employees, but I couldn’t stand for that. I’d built relationships with these people. I saw them more than I saw my own kids, so for me not to say anything was just insanity. So my coworker and I came back to the building off the clock, on our own free will, and we sat in the cafeteria break room and told the truth. And that’s when we started to form a coalition. the first responders—we see that there needs to be a change in the balance of power. Capitalism profits off of lower- and middle-class people, especially during this time, when it’s life or death. And these billionaires, they’re still
UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON COUNTERTERRORISM & HUMAN RIGHTS