Culture / Newsy

Surprising Scenes of Houston’s New Coronavirus Normal — 40 Images That Show the City in a New Light

Heartbreak, Helping and Smiles Through the Gloom

BY // 04.06.20
photography F. Carter Smith

Houston’s new “normal” means freeways without traffic jams, hulking empty sports stadiums that haunt, deserted malls, packed running trails and more and more people in masks. The coronavirus pandemic has changed life across the globe, but seeing it play out in America’s fourth-largest city — the town that went out to eat at restaurants at a higher rate than any major city in the United States — can be especially jarring.

Houstonians are friendly social animals, addicted to valet parking and queso at nearly equal rates.

It’s only been 13 days since Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s first official stay-at-home order went into effect. It’s only been 27 days since the Houston Rodeo was abruptly canceled, at a time when many of us were still living in something of a state of denial.

Now everything seems different. Even if Houston’s giving spirit lives on in acts both big and small.

Health care professionals and grocery store workers are putting their lives at some risk to make sure Houstonians stay healthy and not hungry. Restaurants, crippled by the closure of their dining rooms, are scrambling to adjust, even if offering takeout is more of a means of staying connected to customers and a bare-bones staff than a realistic route to any profitability.

This is a Houston that most of us never imagined seeing. But the city’s heartbeat continues to pump strong, putting smiles on the gloom. Photographer F. Carter Smith has been out documenting Houston life through the coronavirus pandemic for the past several weeks, capturing the city as it’s never been before.

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Some of these Houston coronavirus scenes are heartbreaking. Some are inspiring. Several might make you smile. One or two might make you wonder if some will ever get a social-distancing clue. But they are all a look at this new Houston in all its glory and warts.

This is Houston under coronavirus:

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