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.
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.)
"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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)