Detroit Responds to Pandemic

I began documenting public responses to the global COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020. As more recognition of the problem emerged, individuals set out to address the issue. This man is promoting wearing masks for safety here on the street in the Indian Village community of Detroit.

In a quiet community in Detroit a solo lawn sign signaled the availability of hand-made masks.

On Bagley Street the Detroit Bus Company fleet has been sidelined.  The owners rather ingeniously switched from transportation to supplying liquid hand sanitizer to fill a serious need in the city,

complete with drive-up service and friendly employees.

As is the case with many distilleries throughout Michigan, Detroit Distillery stepped up to address the shortage of hand sanitizer in the early months of the pandemic. It now manufactures and markets its own brand of hand sanitizer in Detroit’s Eastern Market.

Down the street at this food inspection company’s entrance a large sign requires compliance with both COVID-19 and general safety regulations.

Making the best of a bad situation, these parents show their son – whose young life has been bookended by world-changing events – just how proud they are of his graduation from high school. Many graduation ceremonies were canceled this year because of the mandated limits on sizes of gatherings. Note all the elements in the 2020 logo.

The pandemic is hitting small ethnic storefront businesses hard. This one pleads with customers to comply with the mask mandate.

I do not know how body-art stores like Gallery Tattoo on W. 7 Mile can hold on during this crisis. The owners make it clear, though: no mask, no service.

And J.R. Auto Parts was closed on the day I visited. The signs express a desire for employee and customer safety, and respect Governor Whitmer’s guidelines.

The local bank lobby was closed, so I waited in the long drive-thru lane behind an idling, rumbling pickup and fervently wished it were an electric car. The sentiment on its back window speaks for many.

Doers of the Word Church on East Warren Avenue proclaims There is a cure for COVID-19!! This beautifully hand-painted sign is propped against the front of a church vehicle which does not appear to have moved for quite a while. Unmown grass obscures the final message.

I initially photographed Beniteau Street in May, 2020, based on a great story by Detroit Free Press journalist John Carlisle. Beniteau is one of many French-named streets running north from the Detroit River. No known reference to an early French settler. The battered residential neighborhood runs parallel to the DMZ of the massive Chrysler North Assembly Plant.

Mike Forbes is a lifelong resident. He felt compelled to post a montage of COVID-19 related signage on his home and fence.

The signs beg people to use their common sense in the face of the pandemic. He doesn’t sugar-coat his opinions about the current Administration.

He even hung signs on the two remaining trees on his block. All the signs are now gone. COVID-19 remains.


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9 thoughts on “Detroit Responds to Pandemic

  1. Thanks David, another great post documenting life in Detroit.

  2. Thanks David for documenting this crazy time in our history.
    Would love to know more about the French street’s history.

  3. Dear David
    I am always stimulated by your posts, this one especially moving and pertinent. Love to you and Karin.

  4. Thanks David. As usual, you’ve produced a great article.

  5. Truth will out, especially when people are watching and acting. Thank you for this sobering but uplifting blog note. People DO care!

  6. Stellar work as always, David! You are a prize Detroit appreciates!

  7. Amazing work David, as usual!!

  8. Thank you for your extraordinary photo documentary. You capture the most interesting shots!

  9. Just great, david, as always. thanks to your wide open eyes & poking-around spirit.

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