A woman with a baby carriage walks past the tulips in bloom at the Boston Public Garden. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A woman with a baby carriage walks past the tulips in bloom at the Boston Public Garden. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Photos: Mass. Amid The Coronavirus Crisis


In many respects, the coronavirus is invisible. But the pandemic's repercussions are plain to see in nearly every aspect of life.

WBUR photographers Jesse Costa and Robin Lubbock have been documenting the crisis since the outbreak began to worsen here in Massachusetts. Below, we've collected some of their images that show how the pandemic is affecting the state and the measures people are adopting to limit its spread.


'The New Normal'

This spring is different.

At a time of year when many Massachusetts residents are getting outside and shaking off the winter cold, strict "social distancing" measures have kept people apart and largely restricted them to their homes — leaving normally bustling streets, restaurants and public gathering places eerily empty.

March 17: A family out for a walk on Boston Common finds plenty of space for scooter riding. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 17: A family out for a walk on Boston Common finds plenty of space for scooter riding. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 24: A mother and her son look at the closed Boston Public Library. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 24: A mother and her son look at the closed Boston Public Library. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
May 20: Brightly painted rocks with messages inscribed on them regarding the coronavirus pandemic are left on top of the guardrails at a virtually empty Brant Rock Beach in Marshfield. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
May 20: Brightly painted rocks with messages inscribed on them regarding the coronavirus pandemic are left on top of the guardrails at a virtually empty Brant Rock Beach in Marshfield. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 25: An empty Burlington Mall parking lot at midday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 25: An empty Burlington Mall parking lot at midday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: Street guitarist Matty X plays to an empty Faneuil Hall. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: Street guitarist Matty X plays to an empty Faneuil Hall. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 24: An empty MBTA Green Line train en route to Government Center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 24: An empty MBTA Green Line train en route to Government Center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

On March 15, Gov. Charlie Baker closed schools, banned eating inside bars and restaurants and halted any gatherings of more than 25 people. Then on March 23, Baker ordered all non-essential businesses and organizations to close for at least two weeks. That closure was later extended through at least May 4.

These measures to stop the virus' spread have also dealt a devastating blow to the state's economy. As of May 14, more than 1 million Massachusetts residents have filed new claims for unemployment benefits.

The governor said Massachusetts' approach to reopening the economy will be measured, cautious and data-driven. A four-phase plan was announced on May 11.

In the meantime, businesses are watching, waiting and weighing what steps to take to stay afloat.

March 23: Teddy’s Shoes owner Steven Adelson sits behind the counter of his store, working on a GoFundMe page. He hopes with the combination of online sales and donations he receives, he will be able to keep his business. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 23: Teddy’s Shoes owner Steven Adelson sits behind the counter of his store, working on a GoFundMe page. He hopes with the combination of online sales and donations he receives, he will be able to keep his business. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 26: With stores closed and people staying home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, TJ Maxx carts stand idle in the empty parking lot in front of the store at Assembly Square in Somerville. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 26: With stores closed and people staying home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, TJ Maxx carts stand idle in the empty parking lot in front of the store at Assembly Square in Somerville. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 23: With not many stores open, Quincy Marketplace is deserted. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 23: With not many stores open, Quincy Marketplace is deserted. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
May 25: Leuris Luna gives a haircut to a customer at J&C Barber Shop in Roxbury, on the first day of reopening during the pandemic. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
May 25: Leuris Luna gives a haircut to a customer at J&C Barber Shop in Roxbury, on the first day of reopening during the pandemic. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

On March 27, Gov. Baker announced that anyone arriving to Massachusetts from out of state would be advised to self-quarantine for two weeks.

March 30: A sign on Interstate 95 in Waltham urging drivers from outside of Massachusetts to quarantine for two weeks when arriving for their visit. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 30: A sign on Interstate 95 in Waltham urging drivers from outside of Massachusetts to quarantine for two weeks when arriving for their visit. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The pandemic has added a sense of risk to daily activities once done without a second thought — from a quick walk outside, to a trip to the grocery store, to a ride on the T. Masks and other face coverings have also become commonplace. (On May 6, a statewide mask order took effect.)

April 5: Bex and Vanessa Kennedy sit with their German Shepard Niko in front of a yarn sculpture on the fence in Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 5: Bex and Vanessa Kennedy sit with their German Shepard Niko in front of a yarn sculpture on the fence in Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 18: A woman wearing a face mask shops at Target in Watertown. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 18: A woman wearing a face mask shops at Target in Watertown. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 23: Cambridge Department of Public Works staff wrap a basketball hoop in plastic fencing to discourage team games. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 23: Cambridge Department of Public Works staff wrap a basketball hoop in plastic fencing to discourage team games. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 27: A young girl rides her scooter in Boston Common along Charles Street. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: A young girl rides her scooter in Boston Common along Charles Street. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 23: A U.S. postal mail carrier with a mask delivers mail on Canal Street by North Station. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 23: A U.S. postal mail carrier with a mask delivers mail on Canal Street by North Station. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 25: Shan Soe-Lin and Robert Hecht put a mask on their dog Spud while walking the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 25: Shan Soe-Lin and Robert Hecht put a mask on their dog Spud while walking the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: A woman peruses the fruit at one of the stands at Haymarket on Blackstone Street. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: A woman peruses the fruit at one of the stands at Haymarket on Blackstone Street. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 16: A pigeon explores an empty platform at the Harvard Red Line station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 16: A pigeon explores an empty platform at the Harvard Red Line station. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 7: A woman wearing a mask looks out to sea across Wollaston Beach in Quincy. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 7: A woman wearing a mask looks out to sea across Wollaston Beach in Quincy. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 10: Even the ducks of the “Make Way For Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden have donned yellow masks. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 10: Even the ducks of the “Make Way For Ducklings” sculpture in the Boston Public Garden have donned yellow masks. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Spring rituals like the Boston Marathon, opening day at Fenway Park and the start of the Boston Public Garden swan boats season have all been put on hold.

"Running rewards consistency and resilience. So does life," 2018 Marathon winner Des Linden wrote for WBUR's Cognoscenti. "Keep your heads up. Lend a hand to the people around you. If we act like champions, we will all win."

After initially being postponed from April to September, the 2020 edition of the race has been cancelled — a first in its 124-year history.

April 17: Normally on the Friday before the Boston Marathon, there would be a lot of setting up, vendors and a police presence in Hopkinton. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 17: Normally on the Friday before the Boston Marathon, there would be a lot of setting up, vendors and a police presence in Hopkinton. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 17: As she performs a virtual half marathon to keep up her training for September, Hopkinton resident Joy Donohue runs past “The Starter” statue in the Hopkinton Town Common, site of the start of the Boston Marathon. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 17: As she performs a virtual half marathon to keep up her training for September, Hopkinton resident Joy Donohue runs past “The Starter” statue in the Hopkinton Town Common, site of the start of the Boston Marathon. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 16: The swans of Boston Public Garden's “Swan Boats,” which are mounted atop the pontoons, will be kept in storage longer than expected this year. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 16: The swans of Boston Public Garden's “Swan Boats,” which are mounted atop the pontoons, will be kept in storage longer than expected this year. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Medical Workers On The Frontlines

The coronavirus pandemic has strained Massachusetts' health care system like never before, and frontline medical workers are at the epicenter.

Thousands of hospital beds in the state are occupied by coronavirus patients, while field hospitals have been established in cities across the state to bolster capacity. Medical workers must carefully put on layers of protective gear — the acquisition of which has been an ongoing source of tension for state and hospital officials — to safely administer care.

"I do not want to be sick, and I don't want to make other people sick," said Jairo Suarez, a medical interpreter from Worcester, "including the patients I see."

April 16: Dr. Melissa Nass of Boston Medical Center prepares for an examination by fitting on a face shield. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 16: Dr. Melissa Nass of Boston Medical Center prepares for an examination by fitting on a face shield. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: A health care worker looks to cross Huntington Avenue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: A health care worker looks to cross Huntington Avenue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 10: Radiology Resident Nhi Vo looks over a carpet of daffodils left for medical workers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 10: Radiology Resident Nhi Vo looks over a carpet of daffodils left for medical workers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 27: A health care worker hands a mask to someone wanting to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing tent at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 27: A health care worker hands a mask to someone wanting to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing tent at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 9: Boston EMS wheels a patient into the emergency entrance at Boston Medical Center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 9: Boston EMS wheels a patient into the emergency entrance at Boston Medical Center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 2: A message left on a street signpost by the Melrose Wakefield Hospital. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 2: A message left on a street signpost by the Melrose Wakefield Hospital. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

On April 15, Boston public safety officials — including police, fire and EMS — drove by Tufts Medical Center to cheer on the hospital's health care workers, some of whom stood outside to wave to the small parade. Others watched from the windows above.

April 15: Boston emergency vehicles with lights flashing, drive by Tufts Medical Center in a show of support for health care workers. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 15: Boston emergency vehicles with lights flashing, drive by Tufts Medical Center in a show of support for health care workers. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 15: Medical staff watch from an upper floor window of Tufts Medical Center as a line of Boston emergency vehicles, with lights flashing and horns blaring in support of health care workers, drives by. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 15: Medical staff watch from an upper floor window of Tufts Medical Center as a line of Boston emergency vehicles, with lights flashing and horns blaring in support of health care workers, drives by. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts have been tested for the coronavirus. Health experts and state officials say widespread testing and tracking are key to containing the disease.

"More tests means more people know for sure whether they have COVID-19," Gov. Baker said during one of his near-daily press briefings in March. "And from there, those who test positive can work with their health care providers and others to take the steps that they and we need to limit the spread."

Drive-thru testing sites at hospitals and other locations have opened in Massachusetts in an effort to expand access. The Baker administration has also launched an initiative, called contact tracing, to track down people who have tested positive, determine their recent close contacts and get both groups to isolate until they are no longer contagious.

April 10: A health care worker performs a nasopharyngeal specimen collection at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Somerville Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 10: A health care worker performs a nasopharyngeal specimen collection at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at Somerville Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 22: A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing area at Somerville Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 22: A health care worker places a cotton swab into a vile after taking a sample from someone being tested for COVID-19 at a drive-thru testing area at Somerville Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 22: Health care workers registering people being tested in a tent at a drive-thru area for testing COVID-19 at Somerville Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 22: Health care workers registering people being tested in a tent at a drive-thru area for testing COVID-19 at Somerville Hospital. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 2: The COVID-19 drive-thru testing station at Lawrence General Hospital. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 2: The COVID-19 drive-thru testing station at Lawrence General Hospital. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The state and the City of Boston have set up dedicated testing sites for first responders like police officers, firefighters and EMS staff. That cohort has since been expanded to include grocery store workers. Dedicated sites are up at running at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Gillette Stadium in Foxborough and the Big E fairgrounds in West Springfield.

On April 14, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the first Boston Police officer had died from COVID-19 complications. Officer Jose Fontanez was a 29-year veteran of the department.

March 28: The entrance for people with appointments at the COVID-19 testing station at Suffolk Downs. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 28: The entrance for people with appointments at the COVID-19 testing station at Suffolk Downs. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 28: Medical staff check in a person at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing station at Suffolk Downs. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 28: Medical staff check in a person at the drive-thru COVID-19 testing station at Suffolk Downs. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Nursing Homes Struggle With High Case, Death Numbers

Long-term care facilities and nursing homes have been the site of some of Massachusetts' most virulent and deadly coronavirus clusters. The facilities are especially vulnerable to the virus because of factors like residents' age and the close proximity in which they live.

The outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home, a state-run long-term care facility for elderly veterans, gained national attention and sparked three separate investigations to examine what went wrong: one initiated by the Baker administration, another by Attorney General Maura Healey and a federal probe led by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling and the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

More than 70 veterans at the home have died due to COVID-19 complications. Soldiers' Home staff told WBUR that leadership botched the response to the outbreak.

March 31: The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 31: The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 31: A cleaning crew suited up with protective gear enters the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 31: A cleaning crew suited up with protective gear enters the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 31: Members of the National Guard load boxes of protective gear onto a cart at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 31: Members of the National Guard load boxes of protective gear onto a cart at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Nursing facilities are restricting in-person visitation, placing an added emotional burden on families who want to see loved ones but also keep them safe.

In early June, state officials said visits could resume — with strict guidelines still in place.

April 14: Jess, Gabby and Frankie Iovanna of Duxbury show signs to their grandmother Nancy as she looks out the window of her room at the Jack Satter House in Revere. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 14: Jess, Gabby and Frankie Iovanna of Duxbury show signs to their grandmother Nancy as she looks out the window of her room at the Jack Satter House in Revere. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 14: Nancy Iovanna waves to her family on Revere Beach Parkway from her room at the Jack Satter House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 14: Nancy Iovanna waves to her family on Revere Beach Parkway from her room at the Jack Satter House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Students Of All Ages Leave The Classroom

Massachusetts students will not be back at school in person this academic year due to the coronavirus.

Gov. Baker made that announcement on April 21, extending the state's public and private schools closure through the end of the year. The widely expected move followed an initial three-week closure implemented on March 15, which was then prolonged to at least May 4.

"At this point in time, there is no authoritative guidance or advisories with respect to how to operate schools safely and how to get kids to and from schools safely," Baker said.

The story is no different when it comes to higher education. In March, colleges and universities began shuttering their campuses one after another, moving coursework online and instructing students not to return following spring break. Some university facilities in Boston and elsewhere were repurposed into field hospitals or housing for first responders and people who are homeless.

Some colleges say they expect to be able to reopen for the fall semester. But the economic impacts and uncertainty caused by the pandemic are taking a toll.

April 23: Rows of school buses sit parked in Belmont on what would have been a school day. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 23: Rows of school buses sit parked in Belmont on what would have been a school day. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 14: Two students wait as physical education teacher Evelyn Oquendo holds up learning packets, asking how many they will need for the household, for children to do school work online. Salem school officials are delivering "grab-and-go" breakfasts and lunches to all children under the age of 18 at designated areas around the city. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 14: Two students wait as physical education teacher Evelyn Oquendo holds up learning packets, asking how many they will need for the household, for children to do school work online. Salem school officials are delivering "grab-and-go" breakfasts and lunches to all children under the age of 18 at designated areas around the city. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 11: A moving vehicle waits near Harvard’s Winthrop House as the university prepares for student departures due to the coronavirus. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 11: A moving vehicle waits near Harvard’s Winthrop House as the university prepares for student departures due to the coronavirus. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
March 19: Giscar Centeio prepares to deliver two Chromebooks to Boston Public Schools students living in Roxbury, after Mayor Marty Walsh announced the city would move to remote learning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March 19: Giscar Centeio prepares to deliver two Chromebooks to Boston Public Schools students living in Roxbury, after Mayor Marty Walsh announced the city would move to remote learning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 2: A temporary morgue staged at Fitchburg State University's Landry Arena. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 2: A temporary morgue staged at Fitchburg State University's Landry Arena. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 8: Bagged breakfasts and lunches sit ready for pick up in the entrance area of the Excel Academy Charter High School in East Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 8: Bagged breakfasts and lunches sit ready for pick up in the entrance area of the Excel Academy Charter High School in East Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
April 12: A children’s chalk drawing in the backyard of a Somerville apartment house. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 12: A children’s chalk drawing in the backyard of a Somerville apartment house. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Chelsea Becomes A 'Hot Spot'

Chelsea — a densely populated city of about 40,000 that neighbors Boston — has by far the highest rate of coronavirus infection of any city or town in Massachusetts.

More than 60% of residents in Chelsea are Latino. Almost half are immigrants. Chelsea's labor force is also mostly comprised of workers considered "essential" under the governor's stay-at-home advisory. The outbreak there has revealed shortcomings in state resources for non-English-speaking residents. (In early April, Massachusetts launched a Spanish-language unemployment site and began offering text alerts in Spanish.)

Gov. Baker said his administration has been working with city leaders "on an almost daily basis" to contain the situation.

April 14: Dr. John Iafrate, a pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, takes a blood sample from a Chelsea resident at a pop-up testing facility in Bellingham Square. MGH is conducting a study by collecting the antibodies of Chelsea residents who have not tested positive for COVID-19, and they hope they will be able to measure the prevalence of infections in the community. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 14: Dr. John Iafrate, a pathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, takes a blood sample from a Chelsea resident at a pop-up testing facility in Bellingham Square. MGH is conducting a study by collecting the antibodies of Chelsea residents who have not tested positive for COVID-19, and they hope they will be able to measure the prevalence of infections in the community. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 9: Reymer Pineda hands a box of donated food to Gladys Vega to leave on the front porch of a house. All members of the household have contracted COVID-19, and will come out after Vega calls them to let them know. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 9: Reymer Pineda hands a box of donated food to Gladys Vega to leave on the front porch of a house. All members of the household have contracted COVID-19, and will come out after Vega calls them to let them know. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 7: A sign at Margolis Pharmacy in Chelsea indicating, in Spanish, they do not have many of the items necessary for people to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 7: A sign at Margolis Pharmacy in Chelsea indicating, in Spanish, they do not have many of the items necessary for people to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 7: A sign in Chelsea Square informing residents of a student-feed program happening in the city. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 7: A sign in Chelsea Square informing residents of a student-feed program happening in the city. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 21: A young girl points out fruit snacks on a cart to her mother as they wait for a food donation from the Salvation Army in Chelsea. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
April 21: A young girl points out fruit snacks on a cart to her mother as they wait for a food donation from the Salvation Army in Chelsea. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This article was originally published on March 24, 2020.

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Jesse Costa Twitter Photographer, Multimedia Producer
Jesse Costa is the multimedia producer for WBUR.

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Robin Lubbock Twitter Visual Media
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Jack Mitchell works on Project CITRUS, which explores the future of on-demand audio on emerging tech platforms.

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