Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

PPE in the city

Astor Place, Manhattan, when face covering was not mandatory in public. March 13, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

In New York City, everyone is now required to wear a face mask or cover the nose and mouth in public where it is impossible to observe 6 feet social distancing, as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

But weeks before this became mandatory, people wearing it were mostly from the Asian American community which made them targets of racist attacks, when people assumed they had the disease as fears about the coronavirus spread.

Since the directive came into effect on April 17, 2020, more people in Brooklyn have adjusted to this new face covering lifestyle when stepping out. While most people are wearing surgical masks, others are making their own face mask from colorful fabrics and some are going all out with full face respirators which is required in a hazardous environment.  

However, as more people are using the masks and disposable gloves to protect themselves from the virus, the more these single use items are littering the streets.

Health experts warn of the danger posed by getting into contact with contaminated protective gears if not properly disposed of.  Environmentalists also say if not checked these PPEs could become an environmental hazard adding up to the plastic pollution long after coronavirus is eradicated.

Astor Place Subway Station, Manhattan. March 31, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A woman wears a mask she describes as fancy with a Chanel logo. Quincy Street, Brooklyn. April 28, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

Outside the entry way of a grocery store where a delivery truck had just pulled out. Kossuth Place, Brooklyn. March 31, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A woman wears her homemade mask. Broadway, Brooklyn. April 22, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

People’s Garden. Greene avenue, Brooklyn. March 31, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A woman wears two face masks, a grey one on top of a surgical mask. Quincy Street, Brooklyn. April 28, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

Broadway, Brooklyn. March 31, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A woman improvises with a sleep mask. Green Avenue, Bushwick. April 22, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

Spring flowers are beginning to bloom. Grove Street, Brooklyn. April 11, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A man in a full-face respirator waits in line in front of a grocery shop. Ralph Avenue, Brooklyn. April 22, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

Glove and cigarette butt discarded on the street. Patchen Avenue, Brooklyn. April 28, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A woman wears a face shield and surgical face mask for ‘double protection’ against the coronavirus. Broadway, Brooklyn. April 22, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

The wind carries a white glove over another on a sidewalk. Quincy Street, Brooklyn. April 28, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

A man wears a homemade face mask on his way to get some groceries. Broadway, Brooklyn. April 22, 2020. Photo by Narkwor Kwabla

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





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