coronavirus

Conversations During California's Stay-At-Home Order

NBC 7 Reporter Joe Little speaks to South Bay residents from their windows

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Hi. My name is Joe Little. I’m a reporter at NBC 7 in San Diego.

I’m what our industry calls a “Multimedia Journalist.”  I shoot, write, and edit all of my stories on my own.  In normal times I meet people in person, I shake their hand, I put a microphone called a lavalier on their shirt or jacket, and I shake their hand goodbye.

In normal times.

These aren’t normal times, but I still need to tell the stories in my community.  I still need to interview people and record video with my camera.  The coronavirus has put a cramp in my style.

I think we’re all a little stressed and anxious.

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas

Friday was the first full day of the stay-at-home order in California and I wanted to talk to people who were taking it seriously. I didn’t want to do it via Facetime or Skype. I wanted to see people face-to-face. The safest way to do that was through their windows at home.

“I love this whole idea, Joe,” said Imperial Beach City Councilman Mark West from his living room window. I was standing on the sidewalk about 25 feet away.

Thirteen-year-old Santino Blas told me it was weird to speak to a news reporter through his dining room window.

“It’s kind of just been crazy,” said 13-year-old Austin Stroberg from his second-story balcony with his sister and brother. I was standing on the ground below.

It’s crazy for me, too. I still used my lavalier microphone, but I cleaned it with an alcohol wipe.  Then I put it on the ground, backed up, and let my characters put the mic on when they got back inside. 

“I think that we’re all hunkering down,” said Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas from behind her sliding glass door.  I stood on her patio.

“I’m doing things for the first time,” she said as she picked up a sad-looking tortilla. “I tried making flour tortillas for the first time yesterday. Not quite like what my mom used to make. It’s a little tough.”

“We gotta make sure that we continue to talk to each other and be a part of each other,” said Councilman West.

“I think we’re all a little stressed and anxious because we’ve all had to make changes in our routines and in our lives,” said Mayor Salas.

“Their number one priority at our school is to keep us safe,” said Blas who has been playing on his Playstation.

“How is this going to affect school and other things in our life in the future?” asked Austin’s older brother Ethan.

“The economy?” chimed in their younger sister Emerson.

All the adults and children agreed: This isn’t ideal but they’re willing to do what they need to do.

“We gotta take those extra steps to clean things up,” said West.

“It’s a hard thing but we have to be disciplined about it,” said Salas.

Once the interviews were over, each person put my microphone down outside their doors. I picked it up with another alcohol wipe and cleaned it off completely. Then I washed my hands with Purell. I didn’t shake any hands. 

I’m still a reporter.  These just aren’t normal times.

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