Southern Exposure: Lived Experiences of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc and disrupted the lives of low-income individuals and families throughout this state in the southeast region of the U.S.
Report by James H. Johnson Jr., Ph.D, Jeanne Milliken Bonds, MPA
Kenan-Flagler Business School UNC-Chapel Hill
Allan M. Parnel Vice President, Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities Mebane, NC
The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc and disrupted the lives of low-income individuals and families throughout a state in the southeast region of the U.S. Many of the disruptions were shared by all, including isolation-induced mental health issues, adjustments to safety protocols, and financial challenges. Sone lost jobs. Some left jobs to protect family members. Some had major housing issues. Those with school-age children had multiple challenges, including access, reliability, and cost of broadband to support virtual learning; the inability to maintain or return to work because of children at home; and loss of free-and reduced meals at schools. Attitudes about vaccination varied considerably, with some adamantly refusing to be vaccinated, while others acknowledged uncertainty, but hesitatingly sought the vaccines. Others were eager to be vaccinated. Despite personal exposures and familial losses, study participants demonstrated great resiliency, creating ways to keep food on the table, supporting family and friends, finding the positive in having more time with children and other family members, and continuing to search for a way forward throughout the pandemic.
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About the Authors
James H. Johnson, Jr. is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship in the Kenan-Flagler Business School and Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Jeanne Milliken Bonds is a Professor of the Practice, Impact Investment and Sustainable Finance in the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Department of Public Policy at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Allan M. Parnell is a Senior Research in the Kenan Institute’s Urban Investment Strategies Center and Vice President of the Mebane, NC-based Cedar Grove Institute for Sustainable Communities.
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