Neighbors Across Utah Find Safe, Creative Ways To Connect

Mar 27, 2020, 10:45 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2020, 2:03 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – While the coronavirus may be keeping us apart physically, social connections are stronger than ever. Neighbors across Utah are finding creative ways to safely build community.

One Salt Lake City teen is finding a new way to share her musical talent.

“I’ve been playing since I was 7 years old,” said Morgan Dutson, a senior at East High School who lives in the Avenues. “I think it’s a super powerful way to connect with people that isn’t physical.”

At a safe distance, she’s visiting people in her neighborhood, like Cynthia.

Dutson tuned her cello on the sidewalk and began flipping through pages.

“This is exciting,” said Cynthia Gandy, who lives in the Avenues of Salt Lake City. “When my late husband was alive, we would go to the concert all the time but he’s not here. And as a single senior, I don’t go.”

As Dutson began playing her cello, Cynthia became emotional.

“It’s a lift,” she said. “I know that someone cares.”

Melissa Bell organized “chalk the walk” in her neighborhood — creating community through bright messages she shares on social media. Through a neighborhood app, she also participated in spirit week, including “superhero day,” and “crazy hair day,” where her kids dressed up in their home, along with other kids in their own homes. Then, they shared photos online.

“Even though we can’t get close and give hugs and share toys the way we usually do right now, we can still stay connected and be there for each other,” she said.

Therapist Kayleen Davidson, LCSW, Best Practice Counseling, said finding new, creative ways to bond is vital.

“We were born to connect. We were born to attach to one another,” she said. “It does improve overall physical and mental health.”

Connection with neighbors and loved ones reduces anxiety and depression and increases resilience, Davison said.

“People who are well-connected live longer,” she said. “They have better mental well-being. They’re able to manage and tolerate things.”

Chef Adam Kreisel of Chaia Cucina Catering & Consulting is known for his cuisine.

“I cook all the time,” he said.

This day, he was chopping onions for “tomato, roasted bell pepper and basil bisque and jasmine rice.”

He’s found a different way to share.

“There is no charge,” he said. “It’s free.”

He’s donating time and resources to other chefs and anyone who needs his delicious meals.

“Especially in the foodservice industry, there can be some backbiting and some competition,” he said. “Everybody seems to really be kind of working to help each other out.”

And that brings us back to Morgan and her cello.

She’s also playing for Diane Shumway, who lives in the Avenues of Salt Lake City, and her daughter, Amy Jo Fautin, who has Down Syndrome.

“Amy’s birthday is one that we celebrate big, and wild, with lots of people,” Shumway said. “And this one was quiet, and I’m really not sure that she understands what’s going on.”

Dutson played “Happy Birthday” for Amy, and Shumway got teary-eyed.

“It’s really special to have friends come here and do this for her,” she said.

“Someone said to me yesterday, ‘If this is the only thing that you do with your gift, you will have made a difference,’” Dutson said.

Experts said it’s connections like these that will help us all cope — connections that will hopefully last when social isolation is over.

Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a face mask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at

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Neighbors Across Utah Find Safe, Creative Ways To Connect