#StaySafeSouthEnd: This Is How We Do It

The Emerald wants to know how you’re keeping yourselves — and each other — safe these days. We hope you’ll share your stories with us! #StaySafeSouthEnd

by Emerald Staff

For some time, we at the Emerald have been discussing what staying safe during this viral pandemic looks like as we serve our community. Naturally, it looks like following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for health and safety as well as directives from Public Health — Seattle-King County. But guidelines are just that, leaving plenty of room for interpretation.

Furthermore, since the outbreak hit the Seattle area, there’s been a lot of misinformation and bad advice circulating. It’s hard to keep up, and bottom line — there’s no silver bullet. It’s a daily struggle to effectively prevent the spread of invisible germs and manage ongoing shut downs and life in quarantine.

We all have questions …

“How many times a day should I wash my hands? What kind of soap should I use? Should I sanitize my mail and groceries? Do home-made masks work?

We’ve been asking ourselves, each other, and the internet these questions (and so many more) for weeks on end.

Emerald staff had a meeting a while back, virtual, of course, to put some of these questions out there and, specifically, to discuss our values and protocols as an organization to ensure our people — especially those working in the field — were/are protecting themselves and our community.

Emerald staff meet virtually via Google Meet

We shared information, ideas, articles, and more with each other (and have since continued to do so) and settled on some internal safety measures to stick to. We also discussed how the way to solve seemingly insurmountable problems is — has always been — to connect with our community, to crowdsource solutions with South Seattleites, to hold space for one another to be seen and heard in times of crisis.

We can’t literally put our heads together to stop COVID-19, not so much because of the six-foot rule, but because it was always more of a figurative thing — so here’s something tangible, folx!

The #StaySafeSouthEnd initiative is our way of not only bringing you behind the scenes at the Emerald but of inviting you to get closer to us — and most importantly, to one another.

We invite you to tell us how you’re keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from infection by sharing with us your personal and/or professional safety protocols — your tips, tricks, advice, and even concerns or anything else related. We’ll publish your stories (with permission of course) on our website and on social media, with the hashtag #StaySafeSouthEnd.

We know well that quarantine life brings with it unique challenges, that “staying safe” is not limited to keeping germ-free, that mental health, and food, job, and housing security are at the top of many people’s lists of concerns in this moment. We’re starting #StaySafeSouthEnd at the (literal) surface and we hope to go on a journey with you all that leads to any depths this community needs to go to or happens to find itself.

We’re in this together.

To kick things off, below are just a handful of Emerald staff stories about how we’re staying safe (from germs).

Sharon H. Chang, Author + Photographer

“I stay safe by staying home as much as possible, washing hands frequently, and using hand sanitizer if I don’t have access to soap and water. Because I go out on assignment as a photojournalist and visual storyteller, I try to limit going out for other things like groceries by using delivery services. My family and I have not been visiting with friends or family other than on video calls and conferences. The hardest thing has been staying away from grandparents but we don’t want to put them at risk. When I’m out on assignment and photographing community, I use zoom lenses that allow me to maintain at least six feet (or more) of social distance. I always wear a mask and sanitize my equipment before/after every use. I photograph in open air as much as possible.”

Carolyn Bick, Journalist + Photographer

I do all my interviews over the phone, and almost never leave the house, unless it’s to get photos, in which case I wear my N95 mask (gifted to me by a loved one who is in a high risk pool). I have a small bottle of hand sanitizer in the car, as well as sterile wipes at home. As much as possible, I don’t stand downwind of people. I stay as far away as possible from others, and I don’t touch anyone or anything. If someone gets too close, I have no problem telling them to please step back, or I will move, instead. I do not touch my face or hair.

When I get home, I immediately wipe down all my gear and my phone, and then thoroughly wash my hands for at least 20-30 seconds with a bar of Dial soap, after which I wipe off the faucet handle. I also wipe down any surfaces or door handles I’ve touched, and toss my clothes in the wash.

Jessie McKenna, Content Manager

“I endeavor to: shower daily; wear clean clothes; wash my hands profusely, singing “Baby Shark” to ensure 20 secs (thanks to my 3-yr-old niece, sometimes I switch it up tho); keep my distance from others; wear a mask — gifted by an immunocompromised friend who has a vested interest in folx not spreading the virus — and blue nitrile gloves that I wash between uses (I only have two pair); use tons of hand sanitizer, even on my gloves. I’m intentional about how I put on/take off mask/gloves, store them, etc.

“I have many older and immunocompromised loved ones — family, neighbors, colleagues — and I don’t want anything that I do, or don’t do, to negatively impact them. I fear for my own safety, sure, but I try to focus on those most vulnerable and make decisions through that lens. It’s challenging! But I hope my efforts and those of my community will keep more people healthy and safe throughout this thing.

Marcus Harrison Green, Publisher

“I’m staying safe by staying my butt at home, frequently washing my hands (after which I apply liberal amounts of Queen Helene’s shea butter to maintain my cocoa glow but I digress), and doing all interviews over the phone!

Your turn! Share your stories—and selfies!—with us via email at editor@southseattleemerald.com or Facebook Messenger. Feel free to share to your own social media pages, just be sure to use the hashtag #StaySafeSouthEnd (and make sure they’re public) so we can see/share them!