Host intro: With Covid-19 putting most human research to a halt, labs across the tri-state area are struggling to reopen their facilities. James Kyreakedes spoke to a research assistant about the impact the pandemic has had on their lab.
Ambi: nat sounds of typing on a keyboard
Track: I’m here with Zuzanna, a research assistant at a memory lab at Rutgers University, looking at biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. She is finishing a lab report, typing away in her suburban New Jersey home.
ACT: ZUZANNA: At the end of March all of our research activities were shut down completely until further notice. So, everybody has had to work from home, myself included. It’s been…there’s definitely been a lot of changes.
Track: Without any face-to-face interactions, her work day looks very different.
ACT: ZUZANNA: It’s definitely been a big transition for me personally, um I’m not used to just looking at data for 5-6 hours a day. It’s been a little exhausting honestly.
Track: Her lab was faced with new challenges since the pandemic, working with a high-risk population.
ACT: ZUZANNA: My job before was mostly testing and working face-to-face with the older participants usually in their 70s and their 80s, they’re now the most vulnerable population. So, we have had to plan what we’re going to do, essentially for the rest of the year, because we’re not sure when we’ll be able to see these participants in person again.
Track: Although skeptical, her lab is still hopeful about resuming research with the right precautions in place.
ACT: ZUZANNA: We’re definitely taking into consideration their age and the fact that even just getting to our location is going to be putting them at risk. So, for the past few weeks we are trying to plan a different testing site. We’re thinking of maybe moving our testing to a church nearby where there is a lot of room. So right now it’s really just a waiting game.
Track: Aside from the difficulties imposed by working with a high-risk population, the lab is going to have a hard time designating research assistants to test the participants.
ACT: ZUZANNA: Usually, in a research lab, half of the staff were undergraduate students who were looking for some research experience, but because all of these classes are now going to be remote, even in the fall, we lost almost half of our staff.
Track: Although some research has been put to a halt due to COVID-19, other research has been prioritized.
ACT: ZUZANNA: I do plan on pursuing a career in research, so this has definitely been an eye-opener for me. We have had a lot of budget cuts at our lab and I know that moving forward there is going to be an emphasis on Covid-related research, and maybe in the future even other medical research as opposed to what I am looking at now, which is memory and neuroscience.
Track: As of now most research activities at Rutgers University are on hold. Everyone is patiently waiting as we track the spread of Covid19 and wait for new information.
For Baruch College, this is James Kyreakedes in Sayreville New Jersey
Tracks: With so much happening with our political climate, there have been a lot of conversations about what it meant to be black in America and the oppression that follows. However there have not been a lot of discussion what it means to be a black Transgender woman in America, and the amount of violence that this group have experience through the years especially now. But that’s starting to change. Shania Degroot has the story.
Track: I’m at a protest for Black trans lives on Pier 45, near Christopher Street in Manhattan, located within a tree-lined neighborhood known for its rich LGBTQ past. There are many people right now sitting and standing on the lawns holding up signs that showcase their support to Black trans women. Many demanding justice for Tiffany Harris, Bree black, Merci Mack, Shaki Peters and countless transgenders who have lost lives since the beginning of June. In the background you can hear Mariah lopez a member of STARR mission a organization dedicated to fighting for lives of black and brown trangender.
Ambi: Protest chants
Track: This is just one of a number of protests for black trans lives to take place in recent months, since the streets outside the Brooklyn Museum were nearly shut down last month by thousands of protesters. But such are the risks for black trans women that one prominent activist and writer, Imara Jones, says she doesn’t feel comfortable attending these events, even now.
Act: I haven’t gone this year, for a couple of reasons. One is Covid. I am personally very uncomfortable going out in the midst of a crisis. I don’t wanna be quite honestly black, and sick and trans in a hospital with COVID. I just dont wanna put myself in that position. That’s not wise, that is not a wise thing to do given the hostility of our medical system to black people. And for that same reason being a black,trans and a black trans woman, I don’t want to have any experience with the carceral state. That is to say that I don’t want to have anything to do with the
carceral system because, again, of its harsh and disproportionate and unfair and dehumanizing treatment of trans people.
TRACK: The death of many black trans women is nothing new. Last year, there was a string of murders of Black trans women. These women were murdered during pride month of 2019 and their names and stories went unheard of.
ACT: It was a really dark, painful time. And I remember going to protest at that time for those women who died and were murdered and wondering where everybody else was.
More recently, in St. Paul Minnesota, video emerged of a trans woman named Iyanna Dior being attacked by a group of Black men which sparked many conversations on the lives of black trans women.
AMBI: Video clip of the convenience store incident involving Iyanna Dior
Act: What I saw shocked me. And then I learned a little bit more just through some things on my feed that it was in Minneapolis. And that really struck me, right? That on the first day of Pride Month was the day that she was beaten in Minneapolis, St. Paul, where those very same people are out in the streets or have been out in the streets or are supportive of people out in the streets demanding Black Lives Matter — demanding that they be seen as human beings — could engage in a mass dehumanization of someone else who was Black — at the time, without a second thought — was deeply enraging to me and deeply saddening and terribly shocking.
TRACK: Imara used her platform to bring awareness to the situation by publishing an essay for TheGrio, which is a publication that focuses on Black issues in America.
Act :When I decided that I wanted to write something about it, I went to hang online and I actually found there’s an entire 20-minute clip of the entire [A BREATH] affair, as it were. And there was a carnival-like atmosphere before they decided to beat her up. They actually had cornered her, essentially, in the convenience store, and, like, literally a carnival atmosphere — both inside the convenience store and in the parking lot — after they were done taunting her for 20 minutes. And, like … There was something about it in that moment where she was not treated as a human being. And that really got to me.
TRACK: There are many more protests scheduled through this week for Black trans women, much of these protests will focus on bringing justice and light the experience of what black transgender women face in America . For Baruch College, this is Shania DeGroot in Manhattan.
Host intro: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect on many New York businesses, with around 17 million people unemployed or furloughed from work according the burau of labor. For months, food businesses were only allowed to provide take out or delivery services. As the city slowly re-opens, now in stage four, the financial impacts and concerns about people not following social distancing rules has placed Hassane Soumahoro, a Sweetgreen employee under pressure. Pedro Aviles has the story.
AMBI: Sweetgreen cash register typing sounds
Track: I’m here with Hassane at one of the busiest Sweetgreen’s in the middle of Manhattan at 61st street. Since the shutdown, with few people commuting into their Manhattan offices, this location has seen a major slowdown in lunchtime customers and has had to implement new safety rules to stay open.
ACT: When the lockdown started, we didn’t let anyone in the store, and it was only online orders. After phase 2 we had to wear face masks, only six people are allowed in the store. Its only pickup, you can order in the store and the pickup is separated so there is no congestion.
Track: One of their recent sales to attract customers didn’t go in their favor as uncooperative people gathered outside.
ACT: Unfortunately we had a sale and a lot of people popped up, so we kind of got a violation for that, we had way more than 3 people outside of our store at the time, it was definitely hard to tell the people you can’t stand there when you have to pick up your food you know.
TRACK: The stress buildup from work and trending social media videos of people not wanting to follow face mask rules inside stores has placed Hassane in a state of frustration.
ACT: You know is weird because It goes down but as soon as you step outside it keeps rising back up, like what the hell is going on, is like people walking by with corona passing it on. Is also crazy that people are not wearing masks I’ve been to a couple of protests I haven’t gotten corona yet but I think that’s because were always wearing some masks, like we walk past stores and see people seating down eating with no masks, see people walking no masks, see people riding bikes with no masks, like come on man there’s a whole pandemic going on.
Track: As for his future he is uncertain of what awaits, he has hopes on graduating from Brooklyn college and getting a degree in media—a precarious/unstable industry even under the best of circumstances.
ACT: I feel unsecure, is going to be ridiculous especially because I’m going to do media. I’ve been applying for some new jobs, but it is tough to get a new job in my field.
TRACK: During the height of the pandemic, Hassane and his fellow employees were all given a dollar an hour raise, but that is set to expire this month and he is worried that some people will need to be let go. For Baruch College, this is Pedro Aviles in Manhattan