PHOTOS: Public Life Is Surreal In A Pandemic

Mar 17, 2020
Originally published on March 17, 2020 1:58 pm

You may wake up, look out the window and be struck by how things seem pretty normal.

Spring is coming, trees are flowering, birds are chirping.

And if you go to the kitchen to make breakfast and see that someone in your household left dirty dishes in the sink, you'd be peeved.

Yet in March of 2020, these touch points of daily life are in sharp contrast with the overwhelming sense that our world is dramatically different. A walk down supermarket aisles may make you feel as if you've entered into an apocalyptic movie. You can see the anxiety in the eyes of the other shoppers. No apples? No chicken? No toilet paper? And where's the hand sanitizer?

It's all because of a virus first identified in December that has now swept the globe.

Masks are everyday wear (even as scientists repeatedly note that they offer no protection to the average person on the street). No one wants to touch anything for fear of becoming infected — the strap in a bus, the handle of a door, the hand of a friend. Yet people still try to keep calm and keep up their spirits — only with added layers of precautions.

Here are images of our strange, new life in the uncertain age of coronavirus.

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A South Korean child rides a scooter on Feb. 27 in Seoul.
Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images
On a Friday, when faithful Muslims would typically flock to the sacred Kaaba building in the Great Mosque of Mecca for prayers, Islam's holiest site was empty. Photo from March 6.
Bandar Aldandani / AFP via Getty Images
Motorcyclists pile up at a control point in Manila on March 16, when a community quarantine was mandated to curb the spread of COVID-19. Police officers and soldiers monitor entry and exit from the capital region.
Lisa Marie David / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Students wear handmade face masks at a school in Soacha, Colombia, on March 11. They make the masks with everything from banana leaves to plastic bottles, hoping to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus.
Juancho Torre / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Guest workers from Egypt, Lebanon and Syria wait to be screened for COVID-19 after arriving in Kuwait. The photo was taken in Kuwait City on March 16.
Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP via Getty Images
Dener Barbosa of Brazil rides a bull named Bullseye on his way to victory in the PBR Unleash The Beast Gwinnett Invitational on March 15 in Duluth, Ga. The public was not allowed to attend because of the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images
A public hand-washing station for passengers boarding a bus was set up as a cautionary measure against the coronavirus at Nyabugogo Bus Park in Kigali, Rwanda. The photo was taken on March 11.
Margaret Andresen / Reuters
A volunteer operates a remote-controlled robot to disinfect a residential area in Wuhan, China, on March 16. The novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan in December.
Stringer / AFP via Getty Images
A cashier at a supermarket in Buenos Aires, Argentina, serves a customer from behind a makeshift plastic curtain intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on March 14.
Lalo Yasky / Getty Images
From their windows and balconies in Rome, Italians form a flash mob to cheer and make music for Italian health workers on March 14.
Andreas Solaro / AFP via Getty Images
Medical staff in protective gear hand out information sheets about COVID-19 to Iraqi passengers returning from Iran at Najaf International Airport on March 5. Iraq has seen a serious outbreak of the virus.
Haidar Hamdani / AFP via Getty Images
A phrase from the Bible's Book of Isaiah was on display on March 12 at a New York City church.
Jeenah Moon / Getty Images
On March 4, kindergartners in Sleman, Indonesia, attend a hand-washing training session.
Agung Supriyanto/Echoes Wire / Barcroft Media via Getty Images