Beyond the Headlines: People of the Pandemic, Los Angeles

People of the Pandemic portrait series
celebrates and amplifies the voices of the unsung heroes we never
knew we would need. In the coming weeks, we’ll be spotlighting
various people and places around the world. The first collection was shot in London; this album
captures the spirit of LA.


ICU Nurse

“We’re running out of supplies. Each nurse gets one mask to use
for their entire shift – and we’ve been warned that we should hang
on to masks, in case we need to use it multiple days in a row. They
tell us that using bandanas is okay, but it makes us really
uncomfortable in light of how much we’ve learned about the

“I’m really proud of my coworkers. Even the older nurses that
have been assigned COVID patients haven’t refused them. Even people
with babies at home haven’t refused them. I have a friend who lives
with her 85-year-old grandpa and she takes the COVID patients

“I didn’t think it would really affect me emotionally, but after
my first COVID patient… when I left the room it was hard to hold
back the tears. He was 50 years old and had no existing health
conditions. He deteriorated within two hours, was intubated and
wasn’t doing well. It’s really intense.

“Even if I was asymptomatic and not worrying about myself, I
could bring it home to my fiancé and two roommates. I have a friend
of a friend in New Jersey who just lost both of her 50-year-old
parents to the virus.”


Postal Service

“People are really anxious about how they’re getting their
letters and how we handle packages.”

“Everybody’s just trying to stay in good spirits, but for me,
it’s been fine. I’ve just been keeping moving, keeping busy, trying
to stay as healthy as I can. That’s the key. As long as I got my
protective gear on, I feel safe.”


The Source Café, Hermosa Beach

“We’re just blessed to be here and to be healthy – and to still
be able to give everyone this amazing food.”

Mariela’s colleague

The Source Café, Hermosa Beach

“We’ll try to stay open as long as we can, but it’s really
hurting us. We’re putting our own health at risk. We’re really
trying to hold it together”


Liquor store employee

“During the panic week everyone stocked up, but now it’s slowed
down. Nobody’s doing great. It’s not like it’s just affecting us,
though. We’re switching over to a delivery service while we try to
figure it out.”


Artist on Venice Beach

“I’ve tried to embrace it. I’ve started an online shop. I went
from having a pop-up shop on the boardwalk to online sales so it
wasn’t so bad.”

“Clients are like – no one’s around, why don’t you paint it now?
What else are you supposed to do right now, other than what you


Dry Cleaner

“I’m worried about everything, like how I’m going to pay bills.
I’ve got no employees left. I told everybody two weeks ago:
‘There’s nothing to do, so don’t come.’ So I just come by myself.
At least I don’t need to pay myself.

“The business is nothing. It’s not slow… there’s nothing there,
it’s zero. My feeling is that everything is gonna get worse than
this. What can we do? We’re just going day by day.”


Community Support Worker, Safe Place for Youth

“When you think of first responders, you think of nurses and
doctors, but for people experiencing homelessness, it’s the access
centres, outreach staff and case managers that are the emergency
responders on the front line. If our system isn’t operating, all of
those people will be disconnected from vital lifelines.

“At our access centre, we’ve had to minimise our services. We’ve
tried to identify the most essential needs: food, hygiene,
clothing, water. Our doors are closed, but we have tables outside
with staff handing out those items, and we continue to provide two
meals per person, every day.”


Community Support Worker, Safe Place for Youth

“We’re all told to stay home, but not everybody has that luxury
in this city. Not all of our neighbours have homes. They don’t have
bathrooms, they don’t have access to sinks or soaps. You can’t stay
inside if you don’t have a house. You can’t practice social
distancing if you live on the street. Public spaces are the only
places you can go to.

“The pandemic has really made people realise how dangerous it is
to be out on the streets.”


When all this is over, let’s remember that it wasn’t the CEOs,
billionaires or celebrities that kept us alive. It was the
janitors, doctors, nurses, scientists, bin men, bus drivers,
cleaners, postal workers, supermarket employees and many more. They
are our heroes. Let’s share their stories and celebrate them.


When things go back to “normal”, let’s create a new normal in
which we recognise who and what are truly important.

Discover More
Beyond the Headlines: People of the Pandemic, London