COVID-19 Narrative Project

I’m starting something up at Policy of Truth that I call “The COVID-19 Narrative Project.” I suppose it involves a bit of wishful thinking: it’s a long-term project for when COVID-19 is brought fully under control. But I’d like to start now.

Reflecting on my brother and sister-in-law’s experiences as front-line physicians in the COVID-19 crisis, I thought it would be interesting and worthwhile to collect writing from everyone engaged with COVID-19, describing what it was like, from their perspective, to fight the disease. Originally, I had meant to invite “health care workers,” and then workers in the broadest possible sense, but I’ve now come to modify that: I’m inviting submissions from everyone involved or engaged in this struggle.

That means health care workers: EMTs, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, mental health counselors/psychologists/social workers, hospital orderlies, janitors, office workers, billing/collecting workers, lab techs, pharmacists, etc. etc. It means non-EMS first-responders: police officers, firefighters, 911 dispatchers, etc. It means people in law and enforcement–prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, attorneys generally, etc. It means people in government, executive and legislative, from the highest-level offices and positions down to the rank-and-file at the Department of Public Works.

It means people at every level in every relevant business enterprise: from babysitters to grocers to hospital CEOs. It means scientists, from academic MDs to MPHs to lab techs to blood bankers. And it means volunteers and activists, from the Guardian Angels to the Democratic Socialists to #GetUsPPE to blood donors, and so many others. It also means patients and caretakers.

The preceding list is not meant to be exhaustive. If I didn’t list your profession (or it isn’t a “profession”), but you think that your work made a significant positive contribution to the struggle against COVID-19, feel free to submit.

St Barnabas Hospital, Livingston, New Jersey

I’d like to collect these and post them on the blog (also, perhaps, list the links on this page below). Obviously, it will be awhile before front-line health care workers have the time, energy, or inclination to write about their experiences, but I don’t mind waiting until then.

I aim to be as inclusive as possible, but I reserve the right to reject submissions. Racist, sexist, homophobic, fascist/nationalist, etc. submissions will get peremptory “desk rejections,” as will unreasoned ideological rants, and unfounded conspiracy theories of any kind.  I’ll explain the reasons why I reject a submission, but I won’t necessarily engage in lengthy disputes about it. On the whole, what I’m looking for are narratives about what it was like to make a contribution to this battle. Think of each contribution as a distinctive contribution to the narrative equivalent of a potluck dinner. I look forward to the day when narrative food porn of this sort becomes a luxury we can afford.

Send submissions and queries to In submitting to the site, you’re simply agreeing to have (a lightly edited) version of your essay posted on the site. I don’t claim copyright or any other intellectual property right in any submission, so you’re otherwise free to do with your submission as you please.

And yes, where appropriate, I will accept anonymous submissions.

Thanks to Vanvian Hoo and Thailina Marrero for useful suggestions on how to improve my description of the project.

Posts in the COVID-19 Narrative Project

  1. Jennifer McKitrick (Lincoln, Nebraska), “Making Fabric Masks,” March 25, 2020.
  2. Chris Matthew Sciabarra (Brooklyn, New York), “Corona-Chaos: A Pandemic from the Political to the Personal,” March 29, 2020.
  3. Anonymous Physician from a New York-Area Hospital,A Physician’s View from the Front Lines,” April 8, 2020.
  4. Anonymous College Student from North Jersey, “Life and Death in North Jersey: An Extended Family Battles the Surge,” May 1, 2020.
  5. Kiara A. Almendarez (Elizabeth, New Jersey), “Coronavirus, Chronic Pain, and College Life: A Student’s Perspective,” May 4, 2020.
  6. Kendra Francisco (Englewood, New Jersey), “Nursing Assistant in a War Zone,” May 12, 2020.
  7. Daniella Mieles (Jersey City, New Jersey), “Elegy for My Father,” May 23, 2020.
  8. Anonymous DPW Guy from Monmouth County, New Jersey, “Pizza and Public Works: Making Ends Meet in a Pandemic,” June 7, 2020.
  9. Catherine Lentsch (Elkhorn, Nebraska), “From New Jersey to Nebraska and Back: College Life Under Pandemic,” August 3, 2020 (written in mid May, 2020).

Last revised: August 3, 2020

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