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THE WAY WE LIVE NOW: New York City Copes with COVID-19

Chilling photos display a New York City devastated by COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus came for New York City. More than 13,000 residents are dead, and the rest have little to do with their weeks but worry and wait as the unwelcome guest wears out its welcome.

The Big Apple’s avenues are broad but barren. Times Square glistens for no one.

Eyes peer out from behind surgical masks, painter’s masks and scarves. Everyone breathes through a filter.

This is the way New Yorkers live now: bowed but unbroken, weary yet determined.

Police and EMT personnel respond to a medical emergency on April 9, 2020. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, first responders have taken extra safety measures when dealing with the public, including wearing masks and gloves whenever possible. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Times Square, normally a bustling sight at any hour of the day or night, sits largely empty of traffic and tourists on the morning of April 9, 2020. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)

They go to the store, but only a few at a time—and separated by 6-foot buffers as they form block-long columns of human patience to go inside. It’s an often fruitless search for toilet paper, nitrile gloves, bottled water and hand sanitizer, with 8.4 million people competing for cans of soup and other scarce prizes.

They go out for lunch but tables and chairs are gone; footsteps echo on bare floors.

And they go, by the thousands, to the hospital.

Intensive care beds teem with the stricken and scared.

Volunteers from one Christian charity staff a popup medical center in Central Park to ease the strain.

Some days the COVID-19 statistics seem to recede, only to swell again after daybreak.

New Yorkers have learned to wait, to leave their apartments only rarely, and to leave their eyeglasses at home when they do: Breathing through a mask makes them fog up.

The modern silent spring is pierced only by sirens. Ambulances whisking the sick to where they can’t infect the well. Police cars hunting looters. Fire engines carrying hope.

New York’s Bravest launch a buoy when nothing urgent beckons their red trucks: Hundreds of them gather, squad by squad, outside hospitals that dot the five boroughs. They stand and cheer as doctors and nurses emerge from their too-long shifts.

Their slogan is #ClapBecauseWeCare and the daily hurrahs make the rounds on social media. The city sees them through hand-held screens instead of taxi and bus windows.

Inside, exhausted medical staff have learned not to take off their masks and plastic face-visors—not even on their lunch breaks. They can’t know where the devious enemy might lie in wait, and they don’t know when this will all be over.

Fatigued but fighting is the way we live now.


Picking up necessities can be an hours-long challenge when stores have reduced their hours and everyone must keep their distance. Surgical masks are a must-have, along with umbrellas for the insult-to-injury rainstorms. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Firefighters from Engine 76, Ladder 22 cheer and clap for medical staff at Mount Sinai, Morningside on April 7, 2020. They have been returning to the hospital every day at 7:00 p.m. to cheer for hospital staff, who have been struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that is gripping the city. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


New York National Guard soldiers assigned to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery package and help distribute food at 112th Street and 1st Avenue through the GetFoodNYC Program. More than 2,700 members of the New York National Guard are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


A customer at Katz’s Deli orders lunch on April 9, 2020. Restaurants that have remained open in New York City have been reduced to delivery and carry-out service only. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Dee Ess, a resident of the Lower East Side, pauses for a brief posed portrait on Ludlow Street on April 9, 2020. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, masks intended for use in construction have become commonplace. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


A weary New Yorker’s eyes captured on April 9, 2020 say what his neighbors and millions of strangers are thinking every day: that COVID-19’s life-threatening disruptions show no sign of letting up. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Empty shelves line a Key Foods supermarket on April 9, 2020. New Yorkers, like people in many other American cities, are finding it difficult to locate staple items like toilet paper, disinfectant cleaning products and, shown here, cans of soup. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Shoppers form a line and maintain “social distancing” while waiting to enter C Town Supermarket in Brooklyn on April 9, 2020. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, grocery stores have been forced to limit the number of people allowed inside buildings at one time. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Police cars and ambulances are an increasingly common sight in New York City as public health services contend with a seemingly endless number of emergency calls. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Doctors at New York University Hospital line up for a brief lunch on April 9, 2020. Few take off the protective gear that shields them from infection in operating and emergency rooms. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)


Recommended from our partners

A medical volunteer from the nonprofit organization Samaritan’s Purse stands in the rain while waiting for patients at the newly built fi eld hospital in Central Park, Manhattan on April 9, 2020. The fi eld hospital is designed to take in COVID-19 patients and overflow from local hospitals, helping to relieve the strain. (C.S. Muncy/Zenger)