The photographs in this series were taken in New York City between April and June 2020. Photos: Gaia Squarci

Will We Ever Grasp the Enormity of the Pandemic?

As long as we focus on deaths and statistics, the bigger story of Covid-19 will go untold

Subway underpass in Manhattan; a man sleeps in Times Square.
A woman looks out of her window in the Bronx.
A nurse works in a One Medical tent for Covid-19 testing; Sindhuri Prakash-Polet, a resident physician at Mount Sinai Hospital; Mariam and her family wait in line to shop at the pharmacy across the street from Woodhull Hospital; a refrigerated truck outside the Brooklyn Hospital Center.
An advertisement for a radio Bible at the Miles Funeral Home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Everybody tried so hard this past year to make the pandemic’s toll real to everybody else.

A flowerbed in Brooklyn; Ebony Kinch brings food to patients at Woodhull Hospital, “Everybody is at home watching the news. They don’t see what I see.”
Closed churches in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York

By striving to define the Covid-19 experience, we try to stuff it into the category of easy tragedies with a clear start and end point.

Denise Miles, owner of the Miles Funeral Home in Crown Heights; clothes sent by families for their loved ones.

Healthcare workers were criticized for hysteria then taunted for being too upbeat, sometimes by the same people at the same time.

People wait in line to shop at a pharmacy. Brooklyn, New York
Traffic lights in front of Woodhull Hospital; a child plays near to the World Trade Center.

“I’ve had a personally very good year and feel ashamed to talk about it because I’m aware of the pain and suffering all around me.”

A funeral home worker waits before placing flowers in the back of a car owned by the family of a Covid-19 victim; Carlos Rojas, from Ecuador, sick with skin cancer, waits for a car outside of Elmhurst Hospital after one of his chemotherapy sessions.

Eve Fairbanks’s essays appear in The Guardian Long Reads, The Washington Post, and other outlets. She is at work on a book about South Africa.

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