Listen to episodes of Life Under Coronavirus: Long Island's Helpers, Newsday's podcast on the pandemic hosted by Mark Chiusano and produced by Amanda Fiscina. It's a look into how Long Islanders are meeting the challenge of COVID-19. Each episode features a Long Islander talking about his or her experience with coronavirus, with a focus on what people are doing to help. Join us to hear upbeat stories that show how LI is getting by under disease lockdown, an oral history for the period when this is all over.
Episode 28: The show must go on
Broadway might be dark but the show must go on. Episode 28 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is an interview with actor Spencer Glass, originally from Merrick, who has played characters from Buzz Lightyear to Will Ferrell’s Christmas elf on the stage. Glass talks about how show business is adapting to the pandemic and how actors are keeping ready for what comes next.
Episode 27: Protesting during a pandemic
Thousands of people packed into protests throughout New York this weekend to decry the police killing of George Floyd. In one of the region’s densest events in months of coronavirus, we asked protesters what made them brave the disease and gather. “It's one pandemic upon another,” said Tiffany Murrell, a 38-year-old black resident of Brooklyn who attended the Barclays Center protest but tried to keep her distance. Episode 27 of “Life Under Coronavirus” covers a weekend of protests and what they mean for public health and the country’s political future.
Episode 26: About those beach visits
Long Island officials opened the summer season by blocking nonresidents from beaches -- but city dwellers are welcome at state parks built or made accessible by Robert Moses. Episode 26 of “Life Under Coronavirus” looks at an ironic pandemic development: Masterbuilder Moses has fallen out of favor with many NYC residents but in summer 2020 his handiwork might be the only chance for a legal swim many of them. Featuring Thomas Campanella, Cornell professor and NYC Parks historian-in-residence. And a quick check-in with Robert Caro, author of “The Power Broker.”
Episode 25: Doctor lost to COVID-19
When coronavirus hit, Dr. James Mahoney of Freeport was about to retire. Instead, he continued serving public hospital patients in Brooklyn, until he fell ill and died from the virus himself. Episode 25 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a memorial to a pioneering black doctor and mentor to countless New York physicians, a “legend” with a “deep sense of morality” who gave patients his cell phone number and practiced his craft until the end.
Episode 24: The cleaners
An afternoon with the cleaning staff at the Cohalan Court Complex in Suffolk County, Episode 24 of “Life Under Coronavirus” follows cleaners who are battling the pandemic with paper towels and heavy-duty disinfectant. It’s hard work -- and prevailing wage for cleaners at the complex is $13 an hour -- but the cleaners are working overtime and, sometimes, getting compliments about their newly-visible occupation.
Episode 23: Books and bookstores
Selling puzzles in the bookstore window, a new e-commerce site, and why “Dune” and “The Great Gatsby” are big sellers: snapshots of the new normal for Book Revue in Huntington. Episode 23 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a look at how the book-selling industry is doing during the pandemic, and what bookstores might look like in the future.
Episode 22: The contact tracers
To stop the spread of COVID-19 and reopen for business, Long Island needs more contact tracing. Episode 22 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is an interview with a Suffolk County health official and a nurse epidemiologist who work on tracking the disease. That means painstakingly re-creating the “index” patient’s every movement, from home to cubicle or place of work and back, and giving some tough advice about the need for quarantine and caution.
Episode 21: The modern monetary theory guru
As Congress appropriates billions to combat coronavirus, more eyes are turning to modern monetary theory, which suggests that it’s ok for governments to spend more money. One of the most high-profile proselytizers of MMT is Stony Brook University professor Stephanie Kelton, who is Newsday Opinion’s guest on Episode 21 of “Life Under Coronavirus.”
Episode 20: Marry now, party later
Long Island couples are rethinking weddings in the time of coronavirus. Some have decided to “marry now, party later,” says wedding photographer Stacey Kaufmann. Episode 20 of “Life Under Coronavirus” tells the story of two couples adapting their weddings on the fly, featuring Zoom videos, social distancing, an Amazon dress, and the full happy dance party scheduled for healthier times.
Episode 19: 88 years old in a retirement community
Nursing homes across Long Island have been hard hit by the coronavirus, with families becoming frantic and facilities closing themselves off to the outside world. The Amsterdam at Harborside, a continuing care retirement community in Port Washington, has experienced fewer cases than other places where Long Island’s elderly live. Still, life has changed. Episode 19 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a visit inside the socially-distanced community, where resident Joan Rauch, 88, talks about happy hours of the past that are now replaced by Zoom classes, and other ways to stave off loneliness.
Episode 18: Trucking through
Long Island’s roads look different these days. Just ask a truck driver. Episode 18 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is an interview with John Iula, a driver for Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits and member of Teamsters Local 917 who has been driving through the pandemic. He talks about empty roads, new safety precautions for drop-offs, and what it was like to go through quarantine for coronavirus himself.
Episode 17: Main Street 2020
What happens to a bustling Main Street in the age of COVID-19? Episode 17 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is an interview with Eileen Tyznar, president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, which is putting together a relief fund to get businesses back on their feet.
Episode 16: Working with immigrants
Immigrant LIers are being hard-hit by the pandemic. In this episode, we talk with Ana Flores, Make the Road New York organizer.
Episode 15: Teaching at a distance
School looks different now with the move to distance learning. Episode 15 of “Life Under Coronavirus” checks in with Baldwin superintendent Shari Camhi and social studies teacher Tayla Plotke, for a conversation about mailed science experiments, technological learning, what happens when a teacher’s laptop is broken, and how a segment on the Islamic Empire relates to quarantine today.
Episode 14: Helping the homeless in a shutdown world
For Long Island’s homeless population, hunkering down indoors isn’t an easy option. Episode 14 of “Life Under Coronavirus” follows Dwayne Brown, outreach worker for the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, while Brown meets with James Hayden who has been sleeping near the water in East Rockaway and trying not to get sick. Hayden talks about the impact of public spaces being closed, which Brown agrees has only made life harder for already vulnerable Long Islanders. “There's nowhere for them to go,” says Brown.
Episode 13: Seasons cut short for senior athletes
Baseball might be missing right now, but some Long Islanders are doing what they can to keep it alive. Rob Weissheier, first baseman and senior at Hofstra, is the subject of Episode 13 of Newsday Opinion’s “Life Under Coronavirus,” in which the Valley Stream native talks about how he’s staying in shape, what his dreams are for the MLB draft, and why his neighbor wasn’t angry about a baseball through a window. “Just do whatever you can to be ready to go when the season comes back around,” he says.
Episode 12: The National Guard physician assistant
Major Warren Sheprow of the New York Army National Guard once cared for soldiers on a remote forward operating base in Iraq, but now he faces a new challenge: keeping them coronavirus-free in New York. Sheprow, a Port Jefferson native, talks about being on active duty at the Lexington Avenue Armory in Manhattan and keeping members of the military healthy for all their tasks. "I took an oath to help those guys. And that's why I'm here."
Episode 11: Birding, a comforting way to cope
The coronavirus pandemic is pushing Long Islanders to solitary, outdoor pursuits: like bird watching. Episode 11 of Newsday Opinion’s “Life Under Coronavirus” is an interview with John Turner, experienced local birder and nature tour guide, four-time victim of Lyme disease, and senior conservation policy advocate of the Seatuck Environmental Association. Turner says that clearer skies and drops in pollution make this a prime time for birding, a balm for the soul. He says the songs of robins and their brethren can be “comforting” and maybe even good for the world if more people listen in: “We will get past this and maybe, maybe we'll be in a more enlightened place environmentally.”
Episode 10: On the ambulances
Volunteer EMTs are many Long Islanders’ first interaction with the healthcare system. That’s a point of pride and concern during the coronavirus pandemic which is sickening so many frontline medical workers. Episode 10 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a visit to the Massapequa Fire Department’s ambulance bay, where a crew of EMTs talks about bringing patients to plastic-draped emergency rooms that look like the moon, and how everything has to be considered a COVID call: “so every call is stressful now.”
Episode 9: Behind the scenes at Stony Brook
Stony Brook University Hospital is at the heart of Long Island’s fight against COVID-19. Episode 9 of “Life Under Coronavirus” is a tour of some quieter sections of the hospital with Dr. Kristie Golden, a member of the hospital administration executive team. Away from the busy medical areas, Golden discusses telehealth measures meant to better serve and protect patients and healthcare workers, and ways the hospital is trying to keep up the spirits of employees on the front lines. “I think that there are so many things that healthcare workers are taught,” she says. “And one of those things is about how to manage a difficult situation, how to stay calm in a situation that to the average person might be extraordinary.”
Episode 8: The funeral homes
The coronavirus crisis is hitting funeral homes across Long Island. For Rich D’Andrea of Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Homes, that means an inundation of families needing help with the business of end-of-life. Where his facilities once housed huge crowds and rooms brightened by a marching band or motorcycle to honor the dead, ceremonies now have to be limited to a few people in a mostly empty room. “It's a different world in our industry right now,” says D’Andrea in Episode 8 of Newsday Opinion’s “Life Under Coronavirus” podcast.
Episode 7: ‘Three South Strong,’ the COVID-19 nurses
Three South was the first section of Mather Hospital set up for COVID-19 patients. This episode follows two members of that unit: Kathleen Long, nurse manager, and Noelle Menchini, registered nurse, describe how they help patients with FaceTime calls and medical care, even as the floor gets fuller and fuller. “I've been a nurse for 30 years,” says Long. “And we have never seen anything like this.” This is the seventh episode of “Life Under Coronavirus” about the region’s helpers during the current health crisis.
Episode 6: Feeding the front lines
Long Island restaurants might be down, but they’re still cooking -- and sending food to hardworking hospital staff. Two eateries, Hewlett Station Yogurt and Tony D’s Pizzeria, are among those donating to Mount Sinai South Nassau. This is the sixth episode of “Life Under Coronavirus” about the region’s helpers during the current health crisis.
Episode 5: Dr. Lina Miyakawa, ventilator expert
New York needs ventilators, and quick. Lina Miyakawa of Mount Sinai Beth Israel is one of the doctors who operate those lifesaving breathing machines, working almost around the clock as COVID-19 patients begin to crowd hospital beds. She describes how the machines work and outlines one experimental technique doctors are being driven to in order to meet this moment: putting more than one patient on a machine. This is the fifth episode of “Life Under Coronavirus” about the region’s helpers during the current health crisis.
Episode 4: Long Island's mask makers
Doctors and nurses are scrambling for masks, and Long Islanders are trying to help -- by making them. Hicksville linen rental company The Finishing Touch pivoted from bar mitzvahs to donated surgical masks. And former nurse and current quilter Christine Brons of Rocky Point is making masks for health care workers and other vulnerable people out of her colorful stock at home. “I’m just going to keep sewing,” she says. This is the fourth episode of Newsday Opinion's "Life Under Coronavirus," about Long Island's helpers during this health crisis.
Episode 3: Quarantined Steve Bellone, Suffolk County executive
The coronavirus epicenter is firmly in New York, with White House officials citing Long Island specifically as a worrisome problem spot in the nation. As the storm arrives, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is guiding the county’s COVID-19 response while himself being under quarantine after a deputy tested positive. He’s living and working from a “10 by 10 room,” a play area for his kids, juggling his landline and cellphone and ’80s music on the computer. “People are nervous and anxious but you know we will get through this,” he says. This is the third episode of Newsday Opinion's "Life Under Coronavirus," about Long Island's helpers during this health crisis.
Episode 2: Betsy Glazer, Long Beach Soup Kitchen volunteer
Betsy Glazer, a volunteer at the Long Beach Soup Kitchen, is helping to feed people despite the coronavirus threat. The soup kitchen is staying open – providing takeaway food. “I guess I was thinking I hope they're still coming,” Glazer says about what she was thinking on her first day serving under the new rules. “And I hope they know that we'll be there for them.” This is the second episode of Newsday Opinion's "Life Under Coronavirus," about Long Island's helpers during this health crisis.
Episode 1: Rabbi Levi Gurkov
Rabbi Levi Gurkov, director of Chabad of Oceanside, has been delivering supplies to elders and adapting Jewish religious traditions in the face of COVID-19. This is the first episode of Newsday Opinion's "Life Under Coronavirus" podcast about Long Island's helpers during this health crisis.