Members of the multimedia section of The University Star come from all over Texas from the Rio Grande Valley up to Flower Mound near Dallas. As businesses and restaurants start to reopen their doors, our staff members documented what social distancing has looked like for the past two months in their home towns as well as here in San Marcos.
Michele DuPont is from Katy, Texas, a suburb west of Houston. The neighborhood she lives in is home to many young families and children. As a result of COVID-19, many of the local parks have been closed, but the community has still found ways to spend time outdoors by going on walks, runs and bike rides.
Grace-Erin Cooksey is from Flower Mound, Texas, a town located about 20 miles northwest of Dallas. It is home to two high schools, two community colleges, 54 public parks, two major areas of current economic development and countless local, regional, and international businesses. While a typical spring in Flower Mound would consist of thousands of high school students socializing at local eateries, college students getting ready for summer, families at the parks enjoying the warmer weather and the startup of local farmers markets, the town is now seeing the remaining public activity confined within the doors of the essential businesses. Given the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, the grocery stores are one of the few businesses that still have cars occupying their parking lots leaving the schools, restaurants, activity centers and gyms throughout Flower Mound abandoned.
Katelyn Lester is from San Antonio, Texas, just an hour southwest of San Marcos. With summer time and warm weather approaching, the playground and basketball court would normally be filled with children of all ages playing and running around with one another. Families would often take their kids to the pool that’s close to the playground and let their children run around and have fun. Unfortunately, both the playground and the basketball court have now been taped off by caution tape warning the kids and families to not play on them.
Liliana Perez is from the Rio Grande Valley, a region on the southern tip of Texas near the border of Mexico. In between two counties, Cameron and Willacy, she lives in a more rural area compared to other parts of the valley. Growing up in a place with no neighbors, no nearby buildings and no sidewalks, transitioning into a socially distanced lifestyle has not been too drastic of a change for her. She does, however, miss being able to go out to her favorite stores and restaurants, even if it took about 20 minutes to get to them.
Kate Connors is from Austin, Texas, located north of San Marcos. She lives in the community Canyon Creek which has a community center, park and elementary school with the mascot of Comets. On a typical day, the sidewalks would be full of children and their families out walking their dogs and playing with friends at the park. Now, areas like this are blocked off and fences chained up.
James Debbah is from Dallas, Texas, and is currently living in San Marcos. One only needs to look at their local businesses to see the extent at which COVID has affected the community here in San Marcos. At places like the parking lot in front of the EVO Entertainment movie theater and Gold’s Gym where there were once spots filled from front to back, there is now only empty asphalt. H-E-B workers are now required to wear medical masks, and restaurants have had to close their dining areas, prompting any guest that would have once come in to relax to quickly leave for their own safety.
Haley Brand is from El Paso, Texas, a city sharing a border with Mexico. On a typical weekend, the outlet shoppes are flooded with families, children and employees, but COVID-19 has left them abandoned during this time. All parks throughout the city are closed as well which has seemed to drain the energy out of El Paso. In spite of all of these developments, the city continues to show that they aren’t just a community, but a family, proving they are “El Paso Strong.”
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