A smiling little boy on a tire-shaped swing in a park with his dad, wearing a UC Berkeley T-shirt, standing a few feet behind him.

PHOTOS: Despite the Coronavirus, Life Continues in Richmond

A smiling little boy on a tire-shaped swing in a park with his dad, wearing a UC Berkeley T-shirt, standing a few feet behind him.

Photo Essay, Denis Perez-Bravo

It’s been six months since the coronavirus outbreak first pushed us to lock ourselves in our homes and distance from each other. The changes we have had to make — some obvious and some subtle — have become our normal. Our face masks have been added to the phone, wallet and keys checklist we say to ourselves when we leave our homes. For many, education and work have become almost entirely remote. Others have returned to in-person work or never stopped going in the first place.

But through all this, the other challenges of life have not gone away. In Richmond, alongside the coronavirus, we have experienced power outages, unhealthy air conditions with smoke-filled orange skies, a surge in gun violence and the continuous struggle for social and racial justice.

As life goes on in Richmond, the following images capture these coronavirus days.

Testing Sites

Close up of person in medical gown and purple glove holding biohazard bag and handing paper to another person.

A doctor holding a coronavirus test hands information to a patient at West County Medical Center on April 27.

 

Parking lot with tent covering, mobile health clinic and signs for coronavirus testing

The Civic Center south end parking lot houses a drive-through and walk-up free testing site.

 

Richmond now has multiple coronavirus testing sites available for residents. Near the start of the pandemic, paid testing was first offered at Kaiser Permanente.

 

Person in face mask, shield, hair covering, gloves and gown holding swab up to car window

A doctor and nurse from the LifeLong William Jenkins Health Center administer a free drive-through coronavirus test June 10.

 

Education

Students from kindergarten to college have had to transition to distance learning, causing many students and parents to worry what a school year during a pandemic would look like.

 

Student in face mask on Contra Costa College campus under darkened yellowish-brown sky.

With the sky discolored by smoke from nearby wildfires, a Contra Costa College student walks on campus to attend a culinary arts lab class that requires some in-person instruction.

 

>>>Read: Contra Costa College Gets Cooking in the Classroom

 

 

Young man in face mask looks at notebooks of different colors. Nearby, someone stands by a black Mercedes-Benz. Sky is yellowish-brown.

Associated Student Union members at Contra Costa College distribute school supplies to students during the drive-up “Welcome Week” event.

 

Usually, Contra Costa College would throw a mini festival called “Welcome Week” to promote student services and campus groups at the start of the semester. This year, drive-through events are being held to interact with students. And it is a growing trend. Many schools held drive-through graduations in the spring, and they might celebrate the end of the 2020-21 school year in the same way

 

People and cars in parking lot with 2020 sign for drive-through high school graduation ceremony.

Class of 2020 Kennedy High School seniors drove past a stage set up in the parking lot for their graduation ceremony in the spring.

 

Everyday Life

A smiling little boy on a tire-shaped swing in a park with his dad, wearing a UC Berkeley T-shirt, standing a few feet behind him.

A father and son alone at Unity Park on Sept. 18. 

 

Many businesses and services have been closed, but those that are open have adapted to social distancing guidelines.

 

Interior of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Richmond

A young Richmond family baptizes their son at St. Paul’s Catholic Church on June 28. The church performs one baptism at a time and only the child and immediate family are allowed inside.

 

>>>Read: Leaders Move Services Online Amid the Coronavirus

 

People dining on restaurant patio with sign that says "Wear Your Mask."

The newly opened Factory Bar offers dining only on a patio where patrons are required to make a reservation and don a mask.

 

Dispensers for hand sanitizer and masks near back door of a bus.

Interior of a bus with section blocked by caution tape and sign that says "Only passengers with mobility devices and operators beyond this point"

AC Transit riders must board buses through the back door. As seen on the 74, contact with the driver is cut off by caution tape and masks and hand sanitizer are available.

 

 

Museum exhibit with old TV, rotary phone, broom, flip-flops and more near sign that says "Life in Laos"

“Between 2 Worlds: Untold Stories of Refugees From Laos” debuted shortly before the Richmond Museum of History and Culture closed March 16 because of the coronavirus. The exhibit was recorded for online viewing before being taken down. (Screenshot captured by Denis Perez-Bravo / Richmond Pulse)

 

>>>Read: They Lost Their Homes to War. Now, Richmond Laotians Fear Being Pushed Out Again.

 

A Black woman in face mask and orange sunglasses puts a bunch of red grapes into a plastic bag.

Richmond resident Mary Newton, 72, picks grapes Sept. 18 at the farmers market held each Friday in the Civic Center parking lot.

 

Even while people go on with some sense of normalcy, say picking fruit in a mask and gloves, violence continues to hit Richmond especially hard. On Friday, Sept. 18, that is just what happened when Lamonta Butcher, a young rapper known by the stage name Tay Way, was killed.

After six months with no homicides in Richmond, there have been 16 since April with September being the most violent month so far, according to Richmond Police Chief Bisa French.

The growing death count in Richmond, from violence and the coronavirus, has shrouded 2020 in a sense of mourning.

 

Three police SUVs in an intersection.

Richmond residents and police officers at the corner of Macdonald Avenue and 4th Street after rapper Lamonta Butcher, a.k.a. Tay Way, was gunned down Sept. 18.

 

Social Justice Movements

The deaths of George Floyd, Vanessa Guillen and Breonna Taylor have fueled organizers and protesters to take to the streets despite the pandemic. Richmond residents have conducted caravans, marches, art projects and occupational protests throughout the city to raise awareness of the abuse in power in local and federal institutions.

 

Overhead view of people outside Richmond High School.

The Youth Solidarity Project gathered high school students and their communities at Richmond High School and marched to Nicholl Park on Sept. 27 to raise awareness of Breonna Taylor’s death, the acquittal of the police officers who killed her and other injustices in the justice system.

 

Crowd of protesters, some wearing masks and some with signs. Front and center is a person with their fist in the air and wearing sunglasses and a black bandanna over their face.

In June, Richmond Revolution started a march at the Civic Center and rally at police headquarters in protest of police funding. The Richmond Police Department budget accounts for 40% of the city’s general budget.

 

Blue car with Mexican flag being waved out of the front passenger window.

National Brown Beret member Micha Vargas, left, waves a Mexican flag as Left Side Printing owner Diego Garcia drives his car during Contra Costa College’s Resist and Liberate caravan Sept. 19.

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