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The coronavirus pandemic on Long Island in words and pictures

Volunteer firefighters from multiple North Shore fire departments

Newsday is opening this story to all readers as we provide Long Islanders with news and information you can use during the coronavirus outbreak. All readers can learn the latest news at

The coronavirus outbreak has unleashed a universe of emotions — fear, isolation, sadness, longing, anger and grief, even gratitude, wonder and humor. According to the Pew Research Center, one-third of Americans "have experienced high levels of psychological distress" during the extended social distancing undertaken to slow the spread of COVID-19. In times like these, sharing our feelings can bring relief from loneliness and anxiety. In that spirit, we share this collection of poetry and verse written by Long Islanders, and we present it alongside photos taken for Newsday. 

“The Quarantine Predicament,” by Patricia Sherman (East Rockaway, May 4)

It’s been a while since we’ve been out and about.

No more the mall, the movies, or the gym.

Just stay at home and remain therein.

To leave your home you need a mask,

No matter what or where the task.

Disinfectant and wipes now are really rare

Clean all surfaces kill the virus everywhere.

Shopping for groceries can cause anxiety.

Especially when stores have limited variety.

Toilet paper has become a treasure.

How much you have shows your measure.

People are baking up a storm.

Bread and cake in every form.

Scour the markets for yeast and flour.

What going on with this baking power?

What’s the new norm?

What will life be after?

Will hugs and kisses be a thing of the past?

Will social distancing continue to last?

“I'm Ready,” by Casey Lynch (Farmingville, May 1)

I'm ready to go back to School.

I'm ready to go back to Scouts.

I'm ready to play with my Friends.

I’m ready to swim in the Ocean.

I'm ready to go eat in my Favorite Restaurant.

I'm ready to go to the Movies.

I'm Ready for Summer and Being A Kid.

I'm Ready

I'm Ready

I'm Ready.

“Oooh, Corona!” (sung to the tune of “Oklahoma), by Bonnie Friedman (Central Islip, March 25)

Oooh, Corona!

Where the masks hide everybody's face

And the folks you meet

Must stay 6 feet

So the droplets stay in their own space!

Oooh Corona!

Every day the house looks just the same

On our evening walk

It's hard to talk

When you pace out social distancing

They say it can't go on too long

But so far the prez has been wrong

So when we say …

We're sheltering in place

We really mean that

Not much is fine with Corona

The Corona's not OK


The Corona


Saturday was Irene Ringel's birthday, so a group
The empty Glen's Dinette in the Village of
Goose Creek, Southold, NY on Sunday, March 22,

Top photo: Volunteers from multiple North Shore fire departments gather outside St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill on April 9, 2020, to salute health care workers battling on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clockwise from left: When Irene Ringel, with her husband, Hal, at the top of the driveway, had a birthday on a Saturday in April, a group of her friends dropped by her Commack home to wish her well, keeping ample space between themselves. Glen's Dinette in the Village of Babylon sits empty on April 8, 2020. Many playgrounds, like Goose Creek in Southold toward late March, have been closed. (Photo credits: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara; Newsday / John Paraskevas; Newsday / Steve Pfost; Randee Daddona)

“Our New Normal,” by Monica Klein (Deer Park, April 1)

Friday the 13th, a well-known day

Had always been taboo

But in March of 2020

It was my last contact with you.

Our classroom is now a time capsule

Left as it was on that last day

“Bring all your belongings home with you!”

Is what we heard the principal say.

No one knew what it all meant

Our minds so unsure

Wondering when we’d see each other

Any words spoken would be premature.

On television and in the papers

Reports of a virus foreseen

Governor Cuomo declares to all

Our State’s on quarantine.

No more contact with my students

Family and even friends

Until this virus ends its destruction

And this pandemic comes to an end.

Our lives have now dramatically changed

It feels so informal

Behind computers we reach out

This is our new normal.

Thank goodness for technology

Without it where would we be?

Google Meet has been a blessing

Connecting with my students to some degree.

Their tired and frustrated faces

Trying to teach from behind a screen.

District emails, sleepless nights

We dream of our old routine.

Will I see my students again?

Will they get to finish their year with me?

I mourn the loss of what once was,

I can only wait and see.

“What Am I to do?” by Frane L. Helner (South Setauket, March)

Compose a story?

Compose a poem?

Be funny? Serious?


No, that requires thought

and composition.

First try:

"Compose Thyself."

Certainly, a directive for this viral time.

Yet, how does one's self emerge composed

when all personal certainties

are up-side-down, held at six-foot distance apart,

and isolation is an admirable skill?

Now there's the hitch;

one's self withers

in prolonged isolation.

Facebook and messaging try, but

there's no substitute for that

human contaminating human,

viral touch.

We're in for a long,

lonesome springtime. …

"Since We've Been Home," by Michele Maziejka (Glen Cove, April 20)

Week six at home

With nowhere to roam.

People are masked

While doing their tasks.

But, through our covered faces

There are many safe places.

It's all in our hearts and minds

Reminding us to be kind.

Keep your chins up

and keep your thoughts light.

Talk with your families

To help make you feel all right.

Dance and sing

and learn new things.

It's time to slow down

And take a good look around.

The world has changed

And it may never be the same.

But, when this is all through

And we look back as we do.

I hope we'll all have grown

And that love is shown.

Toward strangers and friends

It's really all that matters in the end.

We must regain ourselves

In a world gone still.

Be strong and positive

And spread good will.

Fears can bring out the worst in some

But closer together (yet six feet apart)

Most of us have come.

So, show kindness and compassion, too

As the phrase goes "We are all in this together"

I do believe this to be true.

“In the Blink of an Eye,” by Susan Giuliani (East Meadow, April 13)

Not long ago the bells did ring

   The cheers were loud and plenty

A new decade eased in and smiled at us

   The year was 2020!

It started out like all the others

   But minus the ice and snow

We lucked out, we thought

   And let out a sigh ...

But things, they can change


2020 means a perfect visual score

   When reading an eye chart on the back of a door

A good omen we thought

   And let out a sigh

Yes things, they can change


On a day that appeared just like any other

   Our lives turned upside down

A virus was discovered in a land far away

   Like a plague it migrated but it made not a sound

Our luck, it ran out

   And we did more than sigh

You see life, it can change


The world was infected

   Not a country was spared

No, answers, no vaccine

   No one was prepared

New words hit our mouths never uttered before

   Social distance, pandemic, apex and more

What happened to our perfect year 2020?

   Now sadness and sorrow and death had hit many

Pandemic the word that has shattered our days

   Making hearts ache in so many ways

When that new year came in

   We were on such a high

But life, it did change


No countries are fighting each other it seems

   With guns, or bombs, or political schemes

We're in this together, whether enemy or friend

   This invisible monster, it's life we must end!

Our new norm wearing masks and gloves

   On our hands

Seems a new Spring wardrobe

   Seen across our great land

The day, it WILL come

   A cure WILL be found

The world WILL bounce back

   As it starts a rebound

So pray that good luck

   Will be back on our side

Because things, they CAN change


They'll be parties and ballgames

   And hugging our friends

When families can celebrate and

   Be together again

Have faith, we'll luck out

   Share a comforting sigh

Because things, they can change


Health care professionals take a break awaiting patients
Biggest Banana Farmer's Market store in Oceanside taking
Nelson Maldonado, of Central Islip, recieves a hug

Clockwise from left: Health care professionals take a break as they await patients in late March at the ProHealth COVID-19  testing site in Jericho. Like many retailers, Biggest Banana Farmer's Market in Oceanside erected makeshift barriers to protect customers and workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Nelson Maldonado, of Central Islip, is embraced by his daughter Cinia and grandson Anderson on April 23, 2020, after being the 500th COVID-19 patient discharged from Huntington Hospital. (Photo credits: Newsday / Steve Pfost; Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca; Newsday / Steve Pfost)

“When the Quarantine Is Lifted,” by Eileen Melia Hession (Long Beach, April 26)

I’m gonna get a manicure, I’m gonna get a pedicure,

I’m gonna get a haircut and maybe dye it blue,

I’m gonna make some changes, become slightly outrageous,

I’m gonna live life different. That’s what I’m gonna do.

I might take a vacation, if the airport or the station

Has been sanitized the way I do at home.

I may become creative, completely innovative,

I’ll learn the ukulele, do a sculpture, write a poem.

I’m gonna go to church again, say the prayers, and say amen,

But shaking hands is something I won’t do,

I’ll toss my masks in the garbage can, take the TP out of the van

And bid my stretchy sweats a fond adieu.

I’ll enter any crowded place, let my hands caress my face,

I’ll remember how to hug and how to kiss,

I’ll start to take some chances, go to movies bars and dances,

I’ll do every little thing that I have missed.

And the workers on the front line, our one true ray of sunshine,

All of them so giving and so brave,

I’ll reach out to them with love, and pray to God above

We’ll never have to see a second wave.

“Musically Inspired: A Time for Hope,” by Paige Charles (Old Westbury, April 16)

It’s like the Day the Music Died

Or The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

It’s hearing collective cries

But seeing streets where no one is around.

It’s when being in a New York State of Mind takes more courage rather than giving a total thrill

It’s when Somewhere Over the Rainbow seems a dream you can’t fulfill.

It’s like Saving Time in a Bottle or maybe more like Groundhog Day

It’s sad and isolating, yet so unifying; brings hope that humanity will stay.

It’s when we realize that we’re Only Human after all

It’s knowing that when you need a friend, All You Have to Do Is Call.

If We Could Turn Back Time, could lives have been saved?

Would things have been different based on how we behaved?

It’s the normalcy of Yesterday that we all seem to crave.

But what we are seeing is unprecedented; beautiful in a way

This Long and Winding Road is leading us to a Brand New (kind of) Day.

It’s when people Come Together like nothing we’ve ever seen

It’s when strangers are our angels on whom we have to lean.

It’s when being Born in the USA brings new hope and pride

It’s when Keeping the Faith means praying for others and keeping them alive.

It’s when Dancing in the Moonlight is what we really need

And Singing a Love Song inspires human good deeds.

It’s when we all could use a Bottle of Red and a Bottle of White

It’s a time when TikToks, Memes and finding toilet paper all add to our delight!

It’s a time to Listen to the Music and Teach our Children well

It’s a time we will get through together and someday, a story we will tell.

For one day soon we’ll step outside and get to whisper Here Comes the Sun

And after that, we’ll get to embrace our long-lost missed loved ones.

So Gotta Keep Your Head Up because its Gonna Take a Little Time

We will Work It Out; right now we’re on The Climb.

On National Nurse Day Nurses throughout Nassau County
Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale Wednesday April 15, 2020.
A man wearing a protective mask walks among

Clockwise from left: On National Nurses Day, May 6, 2020, members of the New York State Nurses Association gathered in Mineola to praise those on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. health-care workers. Workers carry a coffin on April 15, 2020, in Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale where burials overwhelmed the cemetery last month. A man wears a mask and gloves as he strolls the grounds of the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay in mid-April. (Photo credits: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.; Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.; Danielle Silverman)

“Reflections of a Time to Heal,” by Kathleen Galati (Hicksville, May 4)

When you’re told don’t touch, how do you feel?

Knowing a hug will help you heal.

You see pain and fear from six feet away.

Lord, please help us to live through one more day.

Washing your hands can clean your skin

But we haven’t found the answer to clean from within.

So we put on our masks and go outside

Where we can face the world but safely hide.

We need to feel the sun on our face.

The warmth of the rays … that loving embrace.

And just for a moment we can try to forget

There are people to hug … but just not yet.


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