Jeanmarie Evelly

A LinkNYC kiosk in Queens shares COVID-19 prevention tips.

Read the original story in Polish at Nowy Dziennik
Translated and condensed by Aleksandra Slabisz

Polish-language newspaper Nowy Dziennik spoke to Polish Americans from New York and New Jersey about how they are grappling with the COVID-19 crisis, which has upended everyone’s lives. The interviews were conducted a week before the governors of New York and New Jersey introduced the mandate to stay home for non-essential workers (Nowy Dziennik has withheld the sources’ last names).

“Following the news from China and other parts of the world, I knew the virus would eventually get here. It was just a matter of time,” says Andrzej from Maspeth, Queens, who had shielded himself for three weeks by staying home due to the outbreak. “Today was my first day out. I went shopping for food,” he said, adding that he also purchased a 192-proof Polish alcohol to use for disinfecting.

“I have watched China and Italy, but it doesn’t really sink in until it is near you. Now we have to fight with the virus ourselves,” says Danuta, also from Maspeth. “I leave home much less now. My work hours have dwindled already. I will probably be forced to take a longer break from work. I only go out to buy the most necessary products. The thought that I need to stay home, avoid seeing people because we can pass the virus to one another makes me feel like I am in prison,” she adds.

“No other virus has attacked so aggressively in our lifetime. It is hard to know what to expect,” says Zofia from Clifton, New Jersey. She says her family protects themselves with masks and gloves when they go out, and everyone takes vitamin C regularly. “We also try to eat foods that contain vitamin C and E, like mango, kiwi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and nuts. Doctors are also suggesting eating products that have zinc and Omega-2. So I make sure we have plenty of these on our table,” she says, adding that shopping at Corrado’s and Shoprite has become difficult because of crowds and supply shortages. “I ended up buying all I needed, from beans through meat, at a Polish deli,” she says.

“We all need take this situation seriously and act responsibly,” says Grazyna from Wallington, New Jersey, who praised federal and state authorities for their response to the pandemic. “I am trying to take all precautions. I rarely even go shopping. If I need to buy something I go to a Polish deli. They have everything I need there and take a good care of the hygiene. I am surprised at people who are stocking up. I heard about a guy who bought toilet paper that will last him for the next five years. It won’t save him from the virus.”

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