Stuck at home

To provide a visual for what the family is doing while they isolate at home, Tiffany Roltgen emailed the Star photos of her children drawing with sidewalk chalk. The end result is geometric and colorful. From left is Stella, 7, Addy, 9, and MacArthur, 4, of Fitchburg.

As a healthcare professional, Patty Marsh still drives to work while most Fitchburgians remain isolated at home, forced to adapt to new routines and livelihoods amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been no leaving for a night out on the town, sitting down with a friend over some coffee engaging in conversation or visiting loved ones. And all social events have been either postponed or canceled.

Marsh, who works at an increasingly busy children’s hospital in an outpatient setting, told the Star via Facebook two weeks ago she hears from families frightened by the crisis.

Other Fitchburg residents -- people who are unemployed or have had to set up makeshift work spaces -- are stuck at their residences as they practice social distancing to curb the spread of the disease.

That may be the case for Marsh when she isn’t performing the essential duties of her rolel.

Life has ground to a screeching halt. The public is doing its part to flatten the curve of the disease, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic March 11.

The Star received stories like Marsh’s on a Fitchburg (WI) Citizens Facebook group post -- people who are trying to build a new semblance of normalcy.

Some say they’ve adapted to working virtually and others engage in arts and crafts. More said they distract themselves by reading, cleaning, keeping the kids entertained, working out and checking on loved ones.

Heather Carson Dipko, a commenter on the post, told the Star her family celebrated St. Patrick’s Day two weeks ago.

“We read our St. Patrick’s Day books, colored shamrocks and put them on our windows,” she said. “We had a leprechaun trap and made shamrock shaped sugar cookies. In between that, I try to do some home organization projects.”

Another commenter, Silvina Arata said she was working from home as a tax accountant.

“This is my busiest month,” she said.

Kim Smith commented she was looking for items to donate and in doing so, took an unexpected walk down memory lane.

“I hooked up my old tape decks, VHS player and dug out some old records,” she said. “I’m looking at things I haven’t seen in 20 plus years.”

Rich Eggleston said he sits at his computer and frets about the impact the pandemic has had on the newspaper and entertainment industries. He said he wishes for the return of manual typewriters and teletype machines.

“I am still performing inspections for the City of Fitchburg, but with some major adjustments regarding the public,” commenter Jack Pearson said. “City staff overall has been outstanding and we are all trying to assist each other in any way possible, especially with election stuff going on.

Nancy Arnold commented she’s found solace in workouts, both live and recorded.

As for Marsh, she said she’s thankful she still has a job to go to and feels for those who have differing circumstances.

“(These are) crazy times we are living in,” Marsh said.

Email Emilie Heidemann at or follow her on Twitter at @HeidemannEmilie.