What COVID-19 Looks Like In Our Community

Siena Geren 

The Charter Features 


COVID-19 is changing our public spaces inside and out. While people begin to get clear instructions on how to stay safe and keep others safe, most are taking meaningful action. Advice about social distancing is everywhere and the community seems to be taking it seriously. But has it actually changed the look of our community? Has there been a shift in where people seem to be spending time during this crisis?

Pioneer Place
Pioneer Place

Pioneer Place, a normally busy mall in downtown Portland was found deserted at 3 p.m. on Monday the 16th of March.    

MAX Station 

The MAX Light Rail (Metropolitan Area Express) a public transport system that carries an average of 120,000 people everyday is practically empty at rush hour.  


TriMet just like the MAX is an essential part of Portland and its surrounding areas public transport.

“Every weekday, Portland-area residents take more than 316,700 trips on TriMet to jobs, shopping, services and recreation. More people ride TriMet than any other transit system our size. We’re the 24th largest U.S. metro area, but 11th in transit ridership.” says TriMet.

Just like MAX, the buses had just a few riders.  

Streets of Downtown Portland 
Parking Garage in Downtown Portland
Streets of the Pearl District

It’s not just the public transports that are empty. The streets are also deserted. Parking lots and street parking is something that people have to think about when they go into the city, but now there is no problem with traffic.  


In response to social distancing Starbucks has made changes in their cafés. Starbucks has changed to a “to go” policy for the next two weeks. 

Portland is a city where coffee is a part of many of our daily routines. Seeing a space designed to bring people together modified to keep them apart is a clear sign that something has changed.

The Apple Store

It’s not just the absence of chairs that is causing our community to look more deserted; it is also a store that we usually see full to the point of bursting at times, closed. 

Milieu in Sellwood

Small businesses have closed,

Cat Hospital of Portland 

or changed their policies.


Places such as OMSI that are normally filled with people ready to learn are empty. 

The Waterfront 
Swim Docks
Springwater Corridor

Outdoor places seemed to be more active on a weekday afternoon than normal.   

So the answer to the question, “has COVID-19 actually changed the way our community looks?” is “yes” and “no.” Inside spaces are nearly deserted while outside spaces are more active than usual. Where people are spending their time has changed over the past few weeks. 


TriMet, trimet.org/about/performance.htm.

Starbucks, stories.starbucks.com/stories/2020/navigating-through-covid-19/.

Accessed 17 March 2020

OMSI, omsi.edu/covid-19. 

Accessed 17 March 2020

Apple, www.apple.com/?afid=p238|sfLfFJtiQ-dc_mtid_1870765e38482_pcrid_405171666133_pgrid_16459446367_&cid=aos-us-kwgo-brand-apple-store-xc–slid—product-.

Accessed 17 March 2020

“MAX Light Rail.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Mar. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MAX_Light_Rail.

Accessed 17 March 2020

“Nike Statement.” Nike News, 15 Mar. 2020, news.nike.com/news/nike-coronavirus-statement.

Accessed 17 March 2020