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A Year Like No Other: The Year In Pictures 2020, The New York Times

Author: Dean Baquet, executive editor

“A Year Like No Other: 2020 in Pictures.” Edited by Dean Baquet The New York Times, The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Dec. 2020, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/year-in-pictures.html.


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Certain years are so eventful they are regarded as pivotal in history, years when wars and slavery ended and deep generational fissures burst into the open — 1865, 1945 and 1968 among them. The year 2020 will certainly join this list. It will long be remembered and studied as a time when more than 1.5 million people globally died during a pandemic, racial unrest gripped the world, and democracy itself faced extraordinary tests.

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The photographs in this collection capture those historic 12 months. Jeffrey Henson Scales, who edited The Year in Pictures with David Furst, said he had never felt such sweep and emotion from a single year’s images — from the “joy and optimism” of a New Year’s Eve kiss in Times Square, to angry crowds on the streets of Hong Kong and in American cities, to scenes of painful debates over race and policing, to the “seemingly countless graves and coffins across the globe.”

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The impeachment of an American president culminated in early 2020. But two pictures taken in late January in Wuhan, China, are hints of a larger cataclysm to come. In one aerial shot, construction workers are building a giant hospital virtually overnight to handle hundreds of patients stricken with the coronavirus. The other looks like a still from a sci-fi film: A man dressed in black, wearing a white mask, lies dead on a city street; two emergency workers have stepped away from him and gaze at the viewer — all but their eyes hidden by face coverings and ghostly white protective suits.

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Then the virus swept the world, recorded in indelible images. The scenes of people comforting beloved family members through glass and cellphones are heartbreaking. Some of the most haunting images are of emptiness. Still cities. Vacant streets of London and the Place de la Concorde. A desolate Munich subway station. Among the most disturbing is a photo of a refrigerated trailer set up as a makeshift morgue in Greenwich Village.

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Punctuating these scenes are photographs of a tumultuous American election that even without the ravages of the virus would end up looming large in history books. As the year progresses, fueled by police shootings of young Black men, powerfully symbolic pictures of protests begin appearing. In May, a lone demonstrator carries an upside-down American flag past a burning liquor store in Minneapolis, in protest of the killing of George Floyd.

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In 2020, a year when all aspects of life seemed transformed, so was the process of making these photographs. Journalists are observers, not participants, but the most striking sense to emerge from interviews with the photographers who took these pictures — described by Mr. Henson Scales as the most diverse group in his more than a decade curating this annual compilation — was how much they too lived what they witnessed. No one could escape the virus and vitalness of 2020. It gave photographers fresh perspective. And they gave us unforgettable images from a historic year in our lives.Read more

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January

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New York, Jan. 1
In Times Square, an ebullient start to the year that would bring a pandemic, a recession and a race for a vaccine to restore normal life. Calla Kessler/The New York Times
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“Everyone was so hopeful and excited making proclamations that 2020 was going to be their year. It just seems like a horrible joke now. It seemed like we were ringing in a very special year, and we were, but wow.” — Calla Kessler

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Hong Kong, Jan. 1
After weeks of relative calm, pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, resuming mass demonstrations that had begun the previous June. Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times
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Des Moines, Jan. 5
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. prayed at the Corinthian Baptist Church during his presidential campaign, in which he promised to restore the “soul of America.” Brittainy Newman/The New York Times
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This trip to Iowa was Brittainy Newman’s first time on the campaign trail, and this image came from one of her last opportunities to photograph anyone in such close quarters this year.

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“They were praying for him on his journey, on this trail he’s going on, and for him to become president and wishing the world would get someone new,” she said. “Everyone was trying desperately to believe. Even Biden’s face — he’s staring right at Clara Jones. He was just staring at her, and her hands — they never let go. They just kept saying ‘Amen, amen.’ You could feel it. It was like a crescendo building up. Everyone at the end had goosebumps.”

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Saudi Arabia, Jan. 6
The Dakar Rally, an annual off-road endurance event that has been held in dozens of countries, was hosted in 2020 by the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula. Bernat Armangue/Associated Press
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Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 7
Supporters of Nicolás Maduro tried blocking the re-election of Juan Guaidó as leader of the National Assembly. Since 2019, both men have claimed to be Venezuela’s rightful president. Adriana Loureiro Fernandez for The New York Times
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New York, Jan. 8
Fidaa Zaidan performing in “Grey Rock,” a play about a Palestinian man who decides to build a rocket to the moon. Caitlin Ochs for The New York Times
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Bago State Forest, Australia, Jan. 10
A dehydrated and underfed wild horse was on the verge of collapse as Australia battled one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history. Matthew Abbott for The New York Times
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“Once a fire goes through, things are just so quiet. You don’t realize all the bugs, all the birds, all the little beings make these noises. It’s just so disconcerting to be walking through this destroyed forest and have complete silence.” — Matthew Abbott

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Milwaukee, Jan. 14
President Trump at a “Keep America Great” rally, two days before the official start of his impeachment trial for charges of obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. Doug Mills/The New York Times
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Kansas City, Mo., Jan. 19
Eric Fisher of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs’ 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans in the A.F.C. championship game sent the Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV, which they went on to win. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
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Benghazi, Libya, Jan. 23
After years of conflict, Libyan factions edged briefly toward a cease-fire, but this street in Benghazi best told the story of life in the exhausted country. Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
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Ivor Prickett traveled to Benghazi in Libya, from where he had reported years earlier, after being granted the rare permission to photograph the eastern part of the country.

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“It was basically unrecognizable,” Mr. Prickett said after his chance to get a look at a part of the nation that had been largely cut off to foreigners for years. “I couldn’t really figure out what was where. It did come back to me, but it was one of the most heavily destroyed scenes I’ve seen in years, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve been in Mosul and Raqqa.”

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Officials in Benghazi kept steering Mr. Prickett away from the old, colonial part of the city. He found a way to sneak in with the help of friends, and eventually persuaded officials to let him work there.

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“At night it was particularly poignant, because there was no electricity and would just be lit by lights of cars,” he said. “There were people living amongst the ruins. It was really evocative and spooky. And I was walking around and saw one of the most heavily destroyed streets and saw this one light probably as far as the eye could see across three or four blocks on the second or third floor of an apartment block. It looked so out of place in this completely gutted building.

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“I was waiting for a car to come down the street to light the buildings with a slow exposure, then just by chance this cat walked across in front of the car, and that was the picture. I had the car and the cat, and I knew I had the picture and just packed up and went home.”

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St. Petersburg, Russia, Jan. 15
During President Vladimir V. Putin’s state of the nation speech, displayed on a facade, he called for constitutional changes that would allow him to hold power past 2024. Anton Vaganov/Reuters
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Los Angeles, Jan. 22
New citizens were sworn in at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Todd Heisler/The New York Times
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Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 30
Milagros Vásquez, seated, was turned away by five hospitals as she went into labor. Venezuela’s public health system has been shattered by a broken economy, with maternity wards the most damaged. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
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Meridith Kohut wanted to show how the economic collapse in Venezuela was devastating the country’s health care system by illustrating the plight of pregnant women.

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Ms. Kohut and Julie Turkewitz, the Andes bureau chief for The New York Times, followed one woman in laborwho was turned away from several hospitals before planting herself in front of one and refusing to leave.

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“She had been in labor for 40 hours,” Ms. Kohut said. “She just said, ‘I’m not going to go try anywhere else.’ She eventually fainted and a bunch of other pregnant women who had just started labor were there and they and their families all started banging on the door.

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“We were afraid she was going to die. I took a photo of her when she fainted, and her mom was screaming and pleading for help. Then everyone in the Times team dropped our cameras and everything and we all started banging on the door, too, and then they finally let her inside. And unfortunately, her baby died the next morning.

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“The crisis is so bad that to do a funeral is like the equivalent of a year’s worth of minimum-wage salary. So she couldn’t afford to bury the baby and had to leave the body in the morgue. It was absolutely heartbreaking.”

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Wuhan, China, Jan. 24
Construction teams worked around the clock on a field hospital that was mostly built in 10 days to help cope with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Getty Images
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Wuhan, China, Jan. 30
A month into the coronavirus outbreak, workers in hazmat suits attended to an elderly man who collapsed near a hospital. Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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Hector Retamal remembers taking the train from Shanghai to Wuhan, China, in January, as the city was locking down.

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A woman approached him and asked where he was going.“‘ It’s no good. It’s dangerous. Don’t go to Wuhan,’” he recalled her saying. “People were really afraid of the virus.”

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Mr. Retamal arrived to find a deserted train station and a ghost town of a city of some 11 million people.

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He and a videographer spent about 10 days there. The two men often had to walk, lugging their gear across the sprawling city and trying to keep a low profile from the police, who would shoo them back to their hotels.

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Coming across a man’s body on the ground not far from one hospital was startling, Mr. Retamal said. The scene unfolded in utter chaos and confusion.

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“My question was what was he doing there,” Mr. Retamal said. “He didn’t move and, wow, is he dead? I was starting to take photos because it was strange and at that exact moment a woman started to scream, saying ‘No, no, no,’ and she asked us to leave the place, and she was angry.”

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More people arrived, surrounding Mr. Retamal and telling him not to take photos.

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Everyone kept their distance from the man until people in white protective suits and masks arrived and placed him in a yellow body bag. They sprayed disinfectant around the area where he had lain.

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The police began to arrive, and Mr. Retamal hurried away. He and his colleagues never officially confirmed that the man had died of Covid-19; nobody would answer their questions.

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February

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Washington, Feb. 6
President Trump holding up a copy of The Washington Post to show its banner headline about his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial. Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times
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“This event was an hour of him saying, you guys tried and failed. It was celebratory. He was oozing confidence. The room was just filled with confidence.” — Anna Moneymaker

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Des Moines, Feb. 3
A full slate of candidates awaited the support of Iowa Democrats as the caucuses began. Joseph R. Biden Jr., who won his party’s nomination, came in fourth in the contest. Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
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Nazaré, Portugal, Feb. 11
Maya Gabeira of Brazil on the biggest wave ever ridden by a woman, and the biggest wave surfed by anyone during the 2019-20 winter season, a first for women in professional surfing. Armando Franca/Associated Press
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Armando Franca has been going to Nazaré, Portugal, for the past decade to watch surfers brave huge waves.

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“It is crazy to be there and watch these people going out into a really scary sea,” he said. “Every time I go I’m still amazed at what they’re willing to do.”

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The competition was especially poignant for one of the surfers, Maya Gabeira, who several years ago was injured and had to be rescued in what could have been a deadly accident on the waves.

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Thousands of spectators were lined on cliffs above the water this year.

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“The waves are so big that if you’re down below by the beach you don’t see anything other than just spray and foam,” Mr. Franca said.

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The surfers are careful and organized. They wear life vests, carry a small canister of oxygen and work in teams of two, with one riding a Jet Ski in case a surfer needs help.

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Still, the waves are huge and dangerous. Ms. Gabeira conquered a massive 73½-foot wave, setting a record for the biggest ever surfed by a woman.

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Los Angeles, Feb. 24
A public memorial service for the basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, at the Staples Center, where Bryant played for the bulk of his career. They died in a helicopter crash. Jenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times
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Seattle, Feb. 22
Supporters of Senator Elizabeth Warren at an event that was held on the same day as the Nevada caucuses, in which she finished in fourth place. Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
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Wuhan, China, Feb. 4
A worker walking in a convention center that was converted into a temporary hospital to treat people with the coronavirus. Chinatopix, via Associated Press
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Washington, Feb. 4
Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up her copy of President Trump’s State of the Union address. Earlier in the evening, he declined to shake her hand. Erin Schaff/The New York Times
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Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Feb. 2
Senator Bernie Sanders at a field office the day before Iowa’s Democratic caucuses. The release of results in the race was delayed by errors and inconsistencies. Hilary Swift for The New York Times
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Laisamis, Kenya, Feb. 8
Kenya battled its worst desert locust outbreak in 70 years, threatening the food security of millions. Khadija Farah for The New York Times
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Jerez, Spain, Feb. 29
Manuel Liñán’s flamenco company represents something new to mainstream flamenco audiences: a frank and joyful expression of gay identity. Camila Falquez for The New York Times
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New York, Feb. 11
Rogan, an Irish setter, during the 144th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. A black standard poodle named Siba took the pageant’s top prize. Victor Llorente for The New York Times
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“This was at the end of the day and the dog was just sitting there, just waiting.” — Victor Llorente

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Italian Riviera, Feb. 1
The French writer Gabriel Matzneff, who for decades wrote openly of his pedophilia, went into hiding after one of his victims spoke out, prompting an investigation. Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times
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Wuhan, China, Feb. 3
To contain the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese government sealed off Wuhan and banned most public transportation and private cars from its streets. Getty Images
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Beijing, Feb. 12
A lone diner in a neighborhood known for its nightlife. The Chinese government imposed restrictions on practically every aspect of life amid the coronavirus crisis. Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
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Hasankeyf, Turkey, Feb. 20
Near the site of the city’s old bazaar, which was demolished to make way for a new dam. The project flooded the Tigris River, submerging the valley and displacing 70,000 people. Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
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March

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Cenate Sotto, Italy, March 15
Claudio Travelli, 61, a coronavirus patient, being examined at his home. The following day, his family called an ambulance again because his condition had worsened. Fabio Bucciarelli for The New York Times
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AN UNIMAGINABLE TOLL AROUND THE WORLD

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The Price of the Pandemic

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By the end of January, the World Health Organization had declared the coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan, China, a global health emergency. As the virus made its way around the world, fear of contagion changed everything about how photographers worked, undermining the intimacy that comes from spending time in proximity to subjects.

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In late March, Fabio Bucciarelli was in Bergamo, Italy, where infections were surging. “It was some kind of laboratory for the world,” he said. “But there were no images from inside.”

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Every day, Italian television reported a counting of the dead. Still, Mr. Bucciarelli said, “nobody was ready for this.”

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He trailed health care workers inside the home of Claudio Travelli, who was ill with the virus, as they examined him. Mr. Travelli was eventually taken to a hospital, where he stayed for three weeks.

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By early December, the global toll of the pandemic had reached staggering numbers: 65 million people sickened and 1.5 million people dead.

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Mr. Travelli was not among those who lost their lives.

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“He started back to work and started living his life again,” Mr. Bucciarelli said. “It was one of the few happy stories.”

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Laghman, Afghanistan, March 13
Two children walked past members of a Taliban unit in an area the group controlled. In February, the U.S. signed a deal with Taliban leaders, setting the stage to end America’s longest war. Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times
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Jim Huylebroek had been trying to photograph the Taliban on their home turf for years, constantly being denied permission when he inquired.

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Finally, an opportunity arose this year when he was allowed to travel with Mujib Mashal, a New York Times senior correspondent, to the eastern part of Afghanistan. The trip was nerve-racking, especially when the asphalt road turned into dirt as his car crossed from government-controlled territory to the Taliban’s turf, and camouflaged men with guns approached the car. The men allowed Mr. Huylebroek to photograph them, and as they stood to the side of the road and children passed, he captured the moment.

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Mumbai, India, March 26
A municipal worker fumigating a vegetable market. It was the second day of a national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight the coronavirus outbreak. Atul Loke for The New York Times
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Ponte San Pietro, Italy, March 24
Members of the Italian Army and military police loaded coffins onto trucks to be taken out of the city. Cemeteries and cremation services in the Bergamo region struggled to cope with a surge in coronavirus deaths. Fabio Bucciarelli for The New York Times
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São Paulo, Brazil, March 18
Residents of the Copan building gathered at their windows to protest the pandemic response of President Jair Bolsonaro, who called the coronavirus a “fantasy” that was being blown out of proportion by political rivals and the press to weaken his government. Victor Moriyama for The New York Times
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Victor Moriyama had been traveling for work in mid-March when he arrived back home in São Paulo to find the city was bracing for the virus.

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President Jair Bolsonaro had been downplaying the threat of the illness, and citizens were worried and angry. They were protesting, but doing so safely from inside their homes. Mr. Moriyama wanted to capture the protest from outside one of the city’s most famous buildings, and took the photo as dozens of residents came to their windows to express their displeasure with their president.

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“It was fantastic,” he said. “The noise from the people was like a kind of orchestra.”

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New York, March 28
Brittainy Newman, a photographer, and her mother, Erika Kirkland, ate their dinner in separate rooms. Ms. Newman had a dry cough and was losing her sense of taste, and was isolating from her mother as a precaution. Brittainy Newman/The New York Times
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London, March 18
An empty street during rush hour in London. Early on, the coronavirus outbreak brought major metropolises to a screeching halt. Andrew Testa for The New York Times
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“What this picture shows is that the people in the U.K. were actually acting a long time before the government did, which is exactly what the government has been accused of — dragging its feet.” — Andrew Testa

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Munich, March 21
A commuterless subway station in the early days of the pandemic. Many images of empty public spaces appeared to be both haunted and haunting. Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times
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New York, March 10
Jewish families celebrated Purim in Borough Park, Brooklyn, one of the largest Orthodox Jewish communities outside Israel. Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times
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In February and March, Ashley Gilbertson was trying to document how New Yorkers were feeling as they watched the news about the virus devastating first Wuhan, China, and then cities in Italy.

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To Mr. Gilbertson, the photo represented the moment when New Yorkers knew what was coming their way but didn’t quite know what to do. “We were trying to be normal, but trying to start taking some sort of precautions — but what? What do you do? It was a picture of walking a line with virtually no information.”

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In March, a coronavirus outbreak hit Jewish communities in New Rochelle, and Mr. Gilbertson knew people there traveled back and forth to Borough Park, Brooklyn. With the Jewish holiday of Purim approaching, he went to Borough Park to see whether people were being cautious or celebrating. He found hundreds of people dressed up and dancing in the streets.

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“I hopped in my car to go to a different part of the neighborhood and as I pulled up to the block, I saw those three little girls crammed into the window, watching everyone celebrating,” he said. “I took the picture. In the frame after that photo, the girls were looking at me. In the next frame, they were gone. It was one of these moments that was absolutely stolen. It existed for a tiny moment before they saw me.”

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New York, March 30
A hospital worker peered into a tent connected to a refrigerated trailer, which was used as a morgue outside Lenox Health Greenwich Village. The coronavirus crisis pushed the city’s system for caring for the dead to its limits. Todd Heisler/The New York Times
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Paterson, N.J., March 24
A firefighter talking to a family member of a suspected coronavirus patient. As the virus hit the city hard in late March, nearly 80 percent of ambulance calls for the coronavirus required transportation to the hospital. Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
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Scarsdale, N.Y., March 16
Members of the National Guard disinfecting surfaces at the Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester. New York created a “containment area” in Westchester County to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Andrew Seng for The New York Times
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New York, March 13
Shoppers scrambled to load up with supplies at a Costco in Manhattan. As the coronavirus spread and lockdowns loomed, panic-buying of grocery staples, medicines and cleaning products skyrocketed. Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times
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Milan, March 13
Italians played music on their balconies as a show of solidarity in the face of the coronavirus, which spread rapidly through the country that month. Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times
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Paris, March 18
Place de la Concorde was empty in what would normally have been the morning rush hour as France entered lockdown. Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times
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Andrea Mantovani started the first morning of the Paris lockdown in the iconic Place de la Concorde.

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Her father used to take her there as a child to show her the vibrant, busting life of her hometown. She was stunned to find it empty amid a gray sky that served as the backdrop.

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“I felt like the Americans landing on the moon,” she said.

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She snapped just one photo before she carried on with her work and it was only when she returned home and viewed the photo on her laptop that she realized how breathtaking it was to see the plaza so devoid of life.

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“I wasn’t looking for a masterpiece,” she said. “For me, my emotions were the masterpiece. I was totally in shock.”

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April

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New York, April 16
Kristen Dirks, an I.C.U. nurse, checked her personal protective equipment in a mirror in Central Park, where an emergency field hospital was set up to help care for patients. Misha Friedman for The New York Times
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Elizabeth, N.J., April 9
Shawn’te Harvell, the manager of Smith Funeral Home, prepared a socially distanced visitation for a Covid-19 victim. The spread of the virus robbed many families of the usual rituals of mourning. Todd Heisler/The New York Times
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“Now, whether it’s going into people’s homes or covering a protest, I am constantly making calculations as to how much risk I am taking — wondering how much time is too much in any one place.” — Todd Heisler

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Yonkers, N.Y., April 6
A 92-year-old man with severe Covid-19 symptoms was intubated at his home by medics before he was transported to a hospital. John Moore/Getty Images
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Columbus, Ohio, April 13
Crowds chanted “Open Ohio now!” at the Statehouse in a protest against Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order and the closure of schools and nonessential businesses. Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch, via Associated Press
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Joshua Bickel was sent to cover Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily briefing at the Ohio Statehouse in April because his colleague at The Columbus Dispatch had been furloughed, part of an attempt to stem pandemic-related financial losses at the paper.

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Mr. Bickel had seen several protesters at the Capitol a few days earlier and had heard more were expected there to register their opposition to the governor’s mask mandate. Some photographers were outside taking pictures of the protesters, but Mr. Bickel made a conscious choice to remain inside. The protesters were unmasked and he didn’t want to risk it.

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“It was April and I didn’t know what was going to go on,” he said. “I wanted to keep myself safe and keep my family safe.”

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During the news conference, some of the protesters approached the outside of the briefing room and began banging on the windows and chanting. There was a lull in the briefing, so Mr. Bickel had a moment to walk around.

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“I looked out the doors where they were and saw them standing there and I thought to myself, ‘That is really intense.’ They were up on the doors banging. The framing of the doors was kind of interesting to me in terms of the composition. I went to a more forward angle. They were chanting outside, and you could hear them all doing it at once, and I was trying to get them all visually doing it at the same time. In the photo, their mouths were all open and that was a choice that accurately reflected what they’re doing at the time. I wanted to do something that would have an impact. And I was only in front of it for 10 to 15 seconds at the most. I walked farther down by the windows and a guy outside flipped me off, and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m good.’”

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São Paulo, Brazil, April 7
Mourners said goodbye to Wilma Bassuti, a Covid-19 victim, at Vila Formosa cemetery, where workers in protective clothing were busy digging line upon line of open graves. Victor Moriyama for The New York Times
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Queens, N.Y., April 10
A Covid-19 patient at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Doctors soon learned that flipping people onto their bellies could improve breathing in those stricken by respiratory distress. Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
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Brooklyn, N.Y., April 9
Precious Anderson, a Covid-19 patient, was shown her newborn baby for the first time with the help of Dr. Erroll Byer Jr. and a live video feed at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
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Victor Blue worked with the New York Times reporter Sheri Fink at the start of the pandemic, documenting Covid-19 as it raged through hospitals in New York.

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“Everybody in the city was scared,” Mr. Blue said. “The hardest thing at first was so much confusion around the virus and what it meant for vulnerable people, especially pregnant mothers.” Mr. Blue had seen Precious Anderson, who was pregnant, on a ventilator in an intensive care unit. “She was not doing well — it did not appear she was going to make it,” he said. While Ms. Anderson was intubated, doctors delivered her baby by cesarean section, and within a couple of days, Ms. Anderson improved. “We were happy to be able to do a story early on that brought some kind of hope, that people could see there were folks who were surviving it,” he said. “That wasn’t the case for most people intubated.”

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Queens, N.Y., April 1
Paramedics worked to resuscitate a coronavirus patient at a hospital. The borough emerged as the center of New York City’s raging outbreak. Philip Montgomery for The New York Times
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Queens, N.Y., April 16
Coffins before being collected at a funeral home. As the virus ravaged New York, overflowing hospitals and backed-up cemeteries left funeral homes stretched to capacity. Stephen Speranza for The New York Times
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Stephen Speranza had been photographing chaotic scenes in April in New York near Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, among the facilities hit hardest by the virus early on. He went to a nearby family-owned funeral home.

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“They had been working so long and so hard,” he said. “They had a good camaraderie going.” In the funeral home, the hallway led to one big room in the very back. “It had one of those curtain dividers and it was pulled wide open and the boxes were just laid out across the chairs. Cardboard boxes made for bodies.”

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