America has been inundated by a third wave of the coronavirus. And just like in the spring when Covid overwhelmed New York, the visual media focus has turned again to the grief and the danger, and to hospital ICUs. However, this time, with editors and news consumers more familiar with the adversary, the photos seem less clinical and more intimate.
Take these images from New Mexico, for example. The first scene is painful enough as a family photo. That Carolina Garcia allows herself to be photographed through her father’s hospital window, however, is extraordinarily giving of her.
Nurse Carolina Garcia takes care of her father Jose Garcia, who is currently intubated and sedated due to COVID-19, during a surge of coronavirus cases in New Mexico. More photos: https://t.co/2AOcNJDy7k 📷 @paulratje pic.twitter.com/clAYJ2WrPj
— Reuters Pictures (@reuterspictures) December 1, 2020
With the focus on the presidential campaign and all thing Trump, there actually wasn’t a lot of visual coverage of the spike until the last few weeks. That’s in spite of skyrocketing infection and hospitalization rates through the late summer and fall, especially in the South and Midwest. Perhaps Biden’s victory has brought with it permission to openly acknowledge reality.
Given the media’s obsession with Trump, the rabid campaign, and the visual vacuum otherwise, I have been wary about the tone of the images showcased by news organizations and the photo agencies. This example pulled me in two different directions. I say, love to Michelle Schmidt of Buffalo, Minnesota, who, taken off her ventilator, was shown experiencing the joy of her first unassisted breaths. At the same time, I want to be mindful of who and how much we’re still not seeing, and the tendency to find the silver lining while we continue to suffer an enormous toll.
Thankful for the healthcare professionals saving lives at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, who are working around the clock fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. @StarTribune pic.twitter.com/RVgYRB0dqn
— Aaron Lavinsky (@ADLavinsky) November 27, 2020
By the way, have you been following the story of Dr. Varon in Houston? In October, the photo below was the subject of a Chatting the Pictures highlight video. The patient he is hugging is one of his own nurses after she contracted the virus.
In our latest highlight video, we discuss this photo by @callaghanohare. Taken at a Houston hospital that is battling Covid, it suggests we could all use a hug right now. Watch the #ChattingThePictures clip here: https://t.co/tEyW0wE7Cx pic.twitter.com/PWPIT4Unel
— Reading The Pictures (@ReadingThePix) August 10, 2020
This recent shot not only captures his enduring empathy but marks 250 continuous days on duty.
Dr. Joseph Varon hugs and comforts a patient in the #COVID19 intensive care unit during #Thanksgiving at the United Memorial Medical Center in #Houston #Texas 📸: Go Nakamura pic.twitter.com/h2Vk18cKUp
— Getty Images News (@GettyImagesNews) November 27, 2020
The latest wave of images doesn’t just capture patients and hospital workers, however. There have also been plenty of images recently that use the trappings of care and the holidays to drive home the magnitude and emotions of the crisis.
Annulons Noël: Faire un Noël🎄modeste, voire moche, c'est le meilleur cadeau possible pour les travailleurs de la santé, qui tombent comme des mouches, par @ihachey https://t.co/PLJUmOMyxk via @lp_lapresse @quocdngu pic.twitter.com/XS3OnEVnNw
— André Picard (@picardonhealth) December 2, 2020
This urgent message from Québec, for example, turns holiday bunting into a vital sign in a visual riff on “deck the halls.” The translation:
“Let’s cancel Christmas: Having a modest, even ugly Christmas is the best gift possible for healthcare workers, who are dropping like flies.” Francine Orr of the LA Times employs the same analogy but frames the danger of holiday travel and someone appropriately outfitted.
— Reading The Pictures (@ReadingThePix) November 21, 2020
Finally, this photo posted by a rural ER and family doctor, struck quite a chord. Orchestral in a way, each one represents a goodbye.
These are iPad stations being prepared for virtual ICU end of life visits by a palliative care doc I know. Jesus. pic.twitter.com/lIgbg0FhaL
— Frankie Goes to Cassville (@roto_tudor) December 3, 2020
— Michael Shaw