Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Javiera uses noise-cancelling headphones to zone out and read a book on her Kindle. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen.

A long time ago, I was surfing the internet and found a comic that caught my attention. The illustrations showed the life of a man from cradle to grave. Him being born, playing his first soccer game, getting married, buying a house, raising children, getting old, and finally, dying. The peculiarity of this comic was that each vignette showed, in varying degrees of importance, the presence of death, pictured as the classic Grim Reaper. In the final square, just before the man dies, we see him talk to the cloaked figure: “OK. I’m ready, now”.

Due to the COVID-19, most people’s lives have changed. Complete routines have shifted to fit the required social distancing policies imposed by authorities. Activities have been adapted to be done inside our homes. Home and office are difficult to distinguish. Friends are either a virtual concept, or memory.

And meanwhile, in the middle of all this, a figure has been present, watching us all along: the screen. Unceasingly, and even more than before the virus, the bright blue lights of our cell phones, computers and televisions have been there, sharing everything we do. With or without our consent, the screens have followed us endlessly since the day we were forced to stay inside. We, of course, have embraced them, just as the character from the comic does in the end.

The following images show the life in front of a screen of Javiera Horta, a journalist that moved to New York City less than 3 months ago to improve her English skills. In them, we see her in her East Harlem apartment going on with her life as normally as she can. She shares with her friends, participates in her classes, dances, plays videogames and reads books. Although, always in front of a screen.

Online classes. In the screen, three more classmates join from Japan, Turkey and Brooklyn. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

Online classes, just after workout. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

The light in her bathroom is not optimal, so she uses a cell phone camera as a mirror when putting make up. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

Javiera participates in a happy hour with her friends from Chile. The experience, evidently, is not the same. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

Even when she doesn’t have a formal job, she still collaborates with some companies in Chile. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

Javiera looks down to her laptop screen as she participates in a free dancing class through Instagram. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

Videogames are a new hobbie for her. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

Once in a while, Javiera goes up to her rooftop to get some sunlight and fresh air. This is one of the very few situations in which a screen is not present. Photo by Patricio Zenklussen

This is a project of  Lori Grinker’s  NYU graduate photojournalism class.



Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Life returns to the East Village

Quincy Walter May 5, 2021

Reopening for Ramadan

Hassan Abbas May 4, 2021

And the band played on

Xavier Bartaburu May 2, 2021

Queens residents mourn at Covid vigil

Annie Burky May 2, 2021

Floating for Free: COVID and the Staten Island Ferry

Trish Rooney May 2, 2021

COVID-19 has left many Black and Hispanic landlords in serious debt

Norah Hogan April 24, 2021

Village East movie theater reopens to the public

Inga Parkel April 13, 2021

Chinese adoptions halted by COVID

Inga Parkel March 24, 2021

Remote is the new workplace normal

Courtney Guarino March 24, 2021

One year of COVID-19 in New York City

Michelle Diaz March 16, 2021

COVID long haulers deal with lingering symptoms and doubt

Kaity Assaf March 5, 2021

Pandemic Weddings

Chuyan Jiang March 2, 2021

Pandemic fatigue 101

Chuyan Jiang February 28, 2021

Yankee Stadium becomes COVID-19 vaccine site for Bronx residents only

Michelle Diaz February 24, 2021

The queer community rallies behind their sacred spaces closed because of COVID-19

Inga Parkel February 23, 2021

Street vendors struggle as New Yorkers and tourists stay home

Norah Hogan February 13, 2021

Keeping the faith in COVID-19

Courtney Guarino February 3, 2021

Little Italy’s restaurants need indoor dining to survive pandemic

Michelle Diaz February 2, 2021

Stray pets find homes and love during pandemic

Inga Parkel February 1, 2021

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

James Pothen December 5, 2020

New York City, a place of refuge 

Edith Rousselot December 4, 2020

Commuting in a pandemic world

Michelle Diaz December 3, 2020

Battling food insecurities during a pandemic

Courtney Guarino December 3, 2020


Justin McGown December 3, 2020

Honk!: Cars earn a special spot in 2020

Luana Harumi December 3, 2020

Working out looks very different during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang December 2, 2020

One kitchen’s transformation in the age of isolation

Isabel Beer December 2, 2020

Nursing homes are filled with sadness and loss during pandemic shut down

Inga Parkel December 1, 2020

The show goes on

Norah Hogan December 1, 2020

Loyal members help keep independent cinemas afloat

Courtney Guarino December 1, 2020

Musicians deal with the reality of no live shows as covid takes center stage

Paola Michelle Ortiz December 1, 2020

 Black Friday’s Aftermath

Sughnen Yongo November 30, 2020

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020