Jaylen Black Recounts Her Last Days In U.S. Capitol Before COVID-19 Closures

'As Told To' Stories
Written for Prof. Lori Johnston’s Feature Writing course, these “as told to” stories were created by a person’s spoken remarks recorded and then edited for publication. Comments trimmed for length and clarity.
 Why It’s Newsworthy: As we approach the anniversary of the first wave of state-mandated shelter-in-place restrictions, a University of Georgia graduate recalls her last moments of normalcy in the U.S. Capitol. 


Jaylen Black, a University of Georgia alumni, tells her story about being an up-and-coming professional in the U.S. Capitol. Working as a communication fellow in the office of then-Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, her success was halted due to increased COVID-19 cases in the Washington D.C. area and many business closures. Black recounts to Allyn Haynes her last days working in the Capitol and in D.C. 


So I vividly remember it was a Thursday. I think this was the day that one of the Senate staffers got COVID, and that’s when it started to really hit home. 

So, that Friday they did say, OK, it’s optional if you want to go in and work on Friday. Of course, me being naive, and also trying to just do well in my office, I was actually working on a really cool project and trying to impress, I was in there still working on a Friday.

We were just looking at the news, and it was just like, more COVID. At first, people thought only rich people were getting it, forgetting only rich people had access to tests.

So many people had COVID before they even knew. Because again, we weren’t wearing masks. That weekend, the girls who are in my suite were like, ‘Oh my God. We should have stocked up on cleaning stuff, and we should try to wear a mask.’ 

A little bit too late because we went everywhere and there were no masks found in the entire D.C. We went to go to the store, girl, cleared out. We just felt like we were a step behind. So then finally, they were gonna give it two weeks. Five of us sharing a common space, though it was spacious itself, it was still like if one of us got COVID, it’s just hard for us. It was just a lot of panic. It was a lot of worries. We didn’t know what was going on.


Allyn Haynes is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in fashion merchandising at the University of Georgia.



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