Pandemic Panorama: Signs, Streets in the Age of the Virus

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Normally photographers seek out subjects that represent something. However, in the age of the coronavirus pandemic–with most people holed up inside their homes–the most noteworthy shots tend to be of little to nothing.

Streets are often empty of traffic, shopping centers are devoid of people and almost everywhere you look there are “closed” signs in windows and doors where not long ago businesses welcomed guests. Other signs warn visitors to refrain from using playground equipment, or to maintain a distance of six feet due to social distancing guidelines.

A sandwich board sign in front of Salon Mia on Main Street in Hellertown is a reminder to passersby to be kind, even under the worst of circumstances.

Dollar General in Fountain Hill alerted customers to the fact that it was out of many of the items that were panic-bought during the early days of the pandemic: hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, wipes, bleach, rubbing alcohol and toilet paper.

The Starbucks in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley went dark in mid-March. Although not all Starbucks locations were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many in the Lehigh Valley were closed. A handful of businesses that sell groceries and/or takeout food remain open in the Upper Saucon Township lifestyle center.

Main Street in Hellertown was nearly deserted on a gloomy weekday afternoon in late March. With warming temperatures and more sunshine, there has been a noticeable uptick in traffic in April, although Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order remains in place.

An early victim of the pandemic was the AMC Promenade 16 multiplex movie theater in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley. Although the company initially tried to keep theaters open by limiting the number of people permitted in its auditoriums, it eventually dimmed its lights completely.

The Peeps & Company store in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley is one of dozens of non-essential retail businesses in the shopping center that have been closed for nearly a month.

Laminated signs posted at the Water Street Park playground in Hellertown advise families that the facility is off-limits during the COVID-19 pandemic. All borough and Lower Saucon Township playgrounds remain closed, although local parks and trails remain open for passive recreation. Visitors must maintain at least six feet of distance between each other to help slow the spread of the disease.

Typically on a weekday afternoon there would be heavy traffic and few open parking spaces in the 600 block of Main Street in Hellertown. The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has changed that, not only in the borough, but all across the country. The toll the shutdown of non-essential businesses is taking on the local economy is hard to calculate, but it will be significant.

There was plenty of parking near and around Town Square at the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley on a weekend afternoon in late March. Unfortunately there were few businesses open due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A St. Luke’s University Health Network yard sign displayed along Delaware Avenue in Fountain Hill reminds area residents to do their part to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus by staying at home.

Signs posted on the front doors of Lorenzo’s Pizza on Broadway in Fountain Hill are there to help enforce statewide social distancing requirements; requirements that are in place to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

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