How Minnesotans keep in touch, from a distance

Words written in chalk on the sidewalk.
Chalk art on a sidewalk in St. Paul reminds people to stay at home and maintain social distance on Saturday, April 11, 2020. Under the stay-at-home order Minnesotans are leaning on other ways to stay connected with loved ones.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

The ways Minnesotans are staying in touch with their loved ones amid the coronavirus pandemic run the gamut of emotions.

There’s the heartbreaking stories — like the mother who sends her daughter, a health care worker, headbands to soften the face masks that are making her ears raw. Or the woman who visits her husband, through a window, at his memory care facility.

And there’s the inspiring and delightful stories — like the 98-year-old grandmother who joyously learned how to use Zoom to chat with her family. Or the sibling happy hour, also via Zoom.

No matter the context, COVID-19 is reminding us that despite the health fears and isolation, we are social creatures. And no stay-at-home order will keep us from keeping in touch with friends and family.

Here are some stories from people in the MPR News audience on how they’re communicating in a time of social distancing.

MPR News received these responses online and through voicemails. They have been lightly edited for clarity and style.


I have get-togethers over Zoom. I have Bible study over Zoom. Conversation over Zoom, as well as utilizing other social media platforms for video chatting such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Messenger. — Miracle Vansiea


I'm making/sending cards! Started with Facebook friends' birthdays, but it keeps me busy and less anxious. — Gretchen Peterson


I used the USPS. I sent my daughter, a health care worker, a package of headbands she can attach face masks to. Her ears are getting raw. — Justine Wettschreck


It's been kind of fun to see how creative you can be while staying connected. I used to get together with a friend for a coffee every Sunday morning. Now we go to a coffee shop and we sit in the parking lot in our own cars and order the coffee, pick it up curbside, then we drive out to the middle of the parking lot, park our cars six feet apart, and have our coffee and scones. — Shannon Churchward


I planned a virtual Easter egg hunt for my nephews. — Ciera Hull


My granddaughter Mari sends her photos and I write poems to go with them. We are making a book. — Mary Rummel


I'm a local comedian in St. Paul and we are staying connected as comedians by hosting virtual comedy shows. We can do it several different ways. Some people do it on Instagram Live. I do it through StreamYard, which streams to both Facebook and YouTube. Basically, we have a host and then we invite a bunch of comedians and we tell jokes to each other and stream it to a live audience. It’s a good way to pass the time with some laughter and it’s helping me get through this whole thing. — Derek Meyers


Emails, phone calls, Zoom — reconnecting with some from the past and sharing positive messages. — Dale Borgeson


A neighbor has arranged a boulevard birthday sing for her husband, turning 79. We will stand on their boulevards and sing! — Armaiti Prosch


I'm a new dad and it's been really interesting, connecting with friends and family virtually to welcome baby Luna into the world. But she nonetheless feels very loved. — Luis Ortega


We are six friends from the Class of 1966, making us 72 this year. We formed a comedy cheerleading group. We are still in touch daily. — Mary Trippler


With close friends and certainly family, we've been doing a lot of regular Zoom sessions. My fiance is a personal trainer, so we've even done some fun workout sessions with my family and friends over Zoom. It's a little interesting that it takes a pandemic like this, where we have stay-at-home orders, to be regularly connecting, especially when I don't live in the same state as a lot of my friends and family. This is something I feel like I would have loved to do before, but now I'm forced to do it. And if there's a silver lining in this, it's that I get to connect with my friends and family now, probably more for the ones that live out of state than I ever did before. — Geena Maharaj


I have been using the telephone and lately Zoom to chat with my girlfriend. Every once in a while, I send an email. — Jan David Fisher


I have a Zoom happy hour with my siblings and go for phone walks with my best friend. I'm talking to them more now than before the pandemic! — Mandy Everhart


Using Skype with family in New Zealand, a volunteer group with Microsoft Teams Meeting, a support group with Zoom, sitting 6 feet from friends in chairs in a park. — Polly Frank


For a friend's milestone birthday, we had a combined surprise car parade, socially distanced alley dance party and Zoom video! — Amy Brandli


I visit with my husband through a window at his memory care facility. Confusing at times for him. — Sue


In terms of social distancing, I've been using a lot of FaceTime and definitely having larger group meetings via Zoom more than I had before. — Asha Ries


We regularly Zoom with grandkids who live in the same town. Our 3-year-old granddaughter loves it when I read a bedtime story I wrote about her. — Anne Fletcher


I'm meeting a friend for grocery shopping. Mainly, we'll be in the store at the same time and be able to say hi in person. — Connie M. Beckers


I have been calling the elders in my family each week. I have been sending cards and letters to family members as far away as Finland. — Joyce Luedke


I am connecting by phone, Skype, Zoom or FaceTime. We taught our 98-year-old mother by phone how to use Zoom — her joy is incredible! — Barbara Rubin-Greenberg


I have been hosting weekly RuPaul's Drag Race Zoom gatherings from home each Friday and FaceTime my partner multiple times a day. — Wayne Glass


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