Caltech COVID-19 Experiences Collection

In April 2020 the Caltech Archives began collecting the experiences of the Caltech community on campus, at home, and elsewhere during this unprecedented time. These contributions are those that we have permission to publish; they are part of a larger collection which will be available to students and archival researchers in the future. Contributions represent the opinions of their authors, which are not necessarily those of Caltech. They are displayed in random order.

Contribute your own experience.

I've been amazed out how quickly the air and sound pollution have diminished over the LA basin. The brownish haze that we are so used to seeing that it no longer registers has seemingly disappeared. The skies are bluer, the mountains crisper and greener, the buildings in... more
Ohio weather this time of year is actually wild, and it usually consists of gray skies and some form of precipitation. Within the last two weeks we had a tornado warning, measurable snow, sleet, hail, and rain of various intensities. Occasionally, we'll get a nice, 65... more
Besides my staff position in the Research group of Prof. Douglas Rees in CCE at Caltech, I have been a professional musician all my life. This past year I helped organize a classical chamber music collective of professional musicians from Altadena—Mt Lowe Chamber Players. Our... more
This is a photo of my family taking its daily walk around our neighborhood during the COVID-19 time. Since the “safer at home” order, none of us have been able to maintain our normal active life; the children, who are used to a bustling, energetic routine, are the ones suffering... more
During this time of crisis, I am dealing with increased stress about my healthcare. While a pandemic is occurring, the Caltech administration is trying to drastically reduce coverage and increase costs for graduate student healthcare.
We bought backyard furniture for our new house the week before campus shut down and it's been our saving grace, especially with two young kids. Our family moved from Wisconsin to California 9 months ago and I can't imagine being locked down in Wisconsin where it's... more
04/12/2020 Happy Easter!! I tried to make my moms deviled eggs but the yolks were too runny. Adam boiled them for me because I didn’t get to it last night or this morning. He’s been picking up a lot of the slack. We are both online students and he is very supportive as I try... more
In a way, the safe at home order has benefited me. Our first child was born about a week before the outbreak was classified as a pandemic. I was out on bonding leave when campus was essentially shut down. Returning to work afterwards now meant going in the other room and working... more
Today the sun will make my 'working from home' more cheerful, rain definitely didn't help my new routine. The squirrels are out and keep jumping outside my window; they also seem to be happy!
Being able to spend time on quiet roads in the evenings with my better half has been refreshing.
This is the Spring Arcade Building in Downtown LA. Sometimes, the ground floor is completely empty these days, or at least empty except for a security guard. Other times, as in this photo, there are a few people walking through. The ground floor is occupied by restaurants and... more
I've been taking my dog on a lot of walks around the neighborhood to get out of the house. One of my favorite things about these walks is stumbling on chalk drawing with encouraging messages to remind us that we're all in this together and we're not alone.
The last day I went to work was on March 16, 2020. The day was gray and cloudy. (Photo taken that morning.) The streets were eerily empty and it took me less than 30 minutes to get to Caltech from Hawthorne via the 110 freeway. (It used to take about 45-60 minutes.) Working from... more
My name is Megan MacDonald and I have the privilege of being Caltech's Bay Area Development Officer. Our family includes two inquisitive and insatiably curious toddlers - Charlotte 3, Remy 1.7, as well as, “Rhodie” our 7 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. We have been... more
The first few weeks of quarantine were a challenge; working remotely, I was part of the team that moved all of the Spring semester courses online. Looking at my timecard for the beginning of the quarantine, I see we worked about 16 days in a row, without a break. Endless uploads... more
Life in quarantine has felt strange and scary, but there are still moments of joy existing within it. Trips to the grocery store, especially around the beginning of March, induced deep anxiety. People were buying out toilet paper, bread and milk. Seeing items emptied from... more
I went into my office in the Sherman Fairchild Library to retrieve a desk chair. 6+ weeks of sitting on a hard dining chair has lost what little charm it had. It was eerie to see the campus so empty. The only people I saw were a security guard driving through in a car, and a... more
"Laundry" May 30, 2020
My kids and I walking through Caltech
This artwork was created by my daughter Allison (13yrs) during the Lockdown 2020
With limited access to stores and how expensive deliveries can be, I started Iron Chef-ing it at home using up as much pantry and perishable ingredients as I could. That way, my family is only going out when we're really, really, really ran out of food necessities. So, I... more
Positively Negative: An Evening in the COVID Tent Brian Gene White Apr 19 · 22 min read Can be found originally on Medium at I’m laid up on the couch, Hawkeye and BJ on the... more
I started thinking about working from home on March 6. I sent an email to my department asking for advice about equipment specifications and best practices. And then, on March 16, I was officially working from home. It was a welcome change at first. I wake up a little later,... more
The 210 freeway during the Covid-19 period
My intent with this article is to tell you about my experience with COVID-19 in the USA and the impact it had on my family. My name is Diana. My husband, daughter (age 5), and I have been living in Pasadena for a year and a half. About a year ago, I started working as a... more
The pandemic is certainly changing the way in which we work. Our group meetings used to be onsite at campus, but during these difficult times the meetings are now online. I am working from my home at Santiago, Chile. So today I was in a meeting with my Advisor in Pasadena and my... more
Shopping at Trader Joe's during COVID19
04/08/2020 We went to the Downes Park beach today. I put my toes in the Atlantic. It is not the ocean of our homeland (Alaska), but those waters will someday reach her shores. We played a fun drawing game. There were blue skies, cute dogs, happy children, sandy beaches, tall... more
Point Buchón on the Central Coast of California - I took the picture a few years ago on a leisurely hike on the Point Buchón trail. It’s closed now, during the Covid-19 Response. Looking at the picture, I’m standing there again. It was a bright January day, with warm sunshine... more
Moving to a new country and moving into an unfurnished apartment is already difficult under normal circumstances. But what do you do when this happens to you during the start of the Corona crisis when most stores are closed and supermarkets are empty? This happened to me when I... more
March 17 - My high schooler was on an unexpected three-week Spring Break and stared color sorting her jelly beans (apparently, we had a lot). Then it turned into an art project!
200410 Today I had Adam leave the house for this morning just so I could get some alone time in the house, the first time in weeks. The weather is crazy again today. Adam and I have started guessing cases every morning, I lost today, he guessed 460 thousand and I guessed 450... more
April 18, 2020 Caltech Theater Arts Director Brian Brophy leads a playreading of "The New Galileos" by Amy Berryman (via Zoom). The play is set in a jail cell. The three women locked within are being persecuted for their belief in climate change. They are... more
Mother’s Day during COVID-19: a surprise play from my kids. They were secretly working on it for a couple of afternoons after their on-line school work.
A watercolor painting created by Marta on 3/15/2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 safer at home LA County directive.
Me receiving a nasopharyngeal covid-19 test. Thank you to all the nurses and others working hard to administer these tests. Testing and subsequent quarantining is our greatest defense against the virus. We owe it to them for making this possible.
As soon as the stay at home order was announced in March, I knew these two were going to have a problem: hair. I appointed myself our official COVID-19 documentarian and took a photo of my boyfriend, Daniel Friedman, and my dog, Cocoa, approximately every week to track the... more
Our child is a high school senior this year. Like many of his peers, he is finishing up his high school career online, missing his friends, and mourning the loss of all the traditional end-of-year celebrations and events. His school's faculty and staff wanted to do... more