Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Reporting during a pandemic

Univision reporter, Vilma Tarazona.

When Miami-based Univision reporter Vilma Tarazona arrived at the home of a migrant family in late March, she put on her gel mask and disinfected the tangled microphone cables before walking up to the front door.

Tarazona was there to interview Teresita Rosales, the mother of 42-year-old Kenia — a disabled woman who has the cognitive capacity of a 2-year-old. Kenia was admitted to an intensive care unit at Palmetto General Hospital in late January after contracting a severe case of influenza. But recent bans on hospital visits due to coronavirus has prevented Rosales from seeing her daughter.

“Now she must be thinking, ‘Where is my mommy?,” the devastated mother told Tarazona during the hour-long interview.

Tears rushed down Tarazona’s mask. She instinctively approached the woman to offer her a hug, but quickly pulled back. The reporter remembered that the strict health protocols put in place by Univision would only let her come within 6 feet of anyone she interviewed.

Tarazona is among thousands of journalists across the country who has had to adapt to stark changes in coverage amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When a crisis of this magnitude occurs, the journalist always has to run to the site of the crisis,” said Tarazona, who spoke in Spanish.

As government officials continue to crack down on large crowds, news networks have had to reduce the number of employees that work in the studio.

Univision President Daniel Coronell slashed newsroom capacity from 500 staffers to 20 on March 25 after two employees tested positive for coronavirus last month.

In trying to curb the spread of COVID-19, Coronell said all reporters, with the exception of a few in the field, would work remotely.

“I was on my way back to the studio from an interview when I received an email announcing that a second case of coronavirus had been confirmed in Univision,” said Tarazona. “Until further notice, only the ‘skeleton crew’ would be needed in-studio.”

The internal email said news headquarters were closed “temporarily in order to provide intensive deep cleaning” of the infected person’s workstation. To implement additional safeguards, security screenings were placed at entry points.

Univision reporter Andrea Linares, who is also based in Miami, said she was used to traveling with her cameraman in the passenger seat. Now, she sits in the back while he drives.

“We work together in person when necessary, — always obeying the 6- feet- apart rule,” said Linares. “Most reporters are editing remotely, but the skeleton crew is meeting in the parking lot to handle production.”

Most Univision shows are now broadcast from reporters’ homes and the parking lots of the network’s two studios. Univision headquarters has stayed open to air two evening programs and its early morning show — but only a handful of cameramen and anchors are allowed in the building.

For Tarazona, these changes have been unpredictable — but she considers it her social duty to keep informing the public.

“We cannot hide in moments of crisis,” she said. “Our audience — especially those who are undocumented — needs us.”

Maria Olloqui is an undergraduate journalism student at NYU.


Tags


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

A dictatorship called COVID-19

Alpha Kamara May 28, 2020

During pandemic, Rio de Janeiro residents fear police

Marina Guimaraes May 27, 2020

Recovering from drugs during a pandemic

Kyla Milberger May 26, 2020

  Covid-19 takes away the communal joy at Eid-al-Fitr celebration

Narkwor Kwablaa May 25, 2020

Beloved old school game sees boom in numbers during coronavirus quarantine

Michael Yang May 15, 2020

Coronavirus leaves the fate of some beloved New York events uncertain

Emily Glass May 15, 2020

South Africa’s lockdown exposes inequalities

Kathleen Taylor May 14, 2020

Churchgoers find spiritual growth through virtual services 

Harrison Tsui May 14, 2020

” I’m working with COVID patients tonight”

Margaret Guzman May 14, 2020

Singles connect on Tinder to fight quarantine blues 

Yaroslava Bondar May 14, 2020

Jewish traditions during a pandemic

Sydney Fishman May 13, 2020

The Bible and Coronavirus

Jonathan Sarabia May 13, 2020

Doctor uses social media to give advice and hope

Sope Aluko May 12, 2020

First Sandy, Now COVID: Lower East Side Activists Grapple With Construction for Climate Project

Izzie Ramirez May 12, 2020

Dating during a pandemic

Bessie Liu May 12, 2020

The last reponders

Shiyu Xu May 11, 2020

When the pandemic hits a shelter for abused boys 

Amanda Perez Pintado May 11, 2020

Portugal contains the coronavirus despite Spain’s woes

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 11, 2020

Warm weather brings crowds to Prospect Park

Bessie Liu May 11, 2020

New York coronavirus numbers continue to fall

Jonathan Sarabia May 10, 2020

Living through the pandemic while a loved one is behind bars

Amanda Perez Pintado May 10, 2020

Pandemic ends all high school senior year traditions

Jonathan Sarabia May 10, 2020

Coronavirus might have caused the death of many children who were misdiagnosed 

Ximena Del Cerro May 9, 2020

Farmers destroy staggering amounts of food even as food lines grow

Karen Camela Watson May 9, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic threatens border towns in Mexico

Sydney Fishman and Ximena Del Cerro May 9, 2020

Pence’s press secretary tests positive for Covid-19

Shiyu Xu May 8, 2020

During pandemic NYC tenants in limbo

John DiLillo May 8, 2020

Llamas could be coronavirus heroes

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 8, 2020

Lawmakers, Legal Experts Clash Over Much Needed Business Interruption Insurance Coverage for Small Businesses

James Duffy May 8, 2020

Rent relief in NY, JetBlue’s flyover and Trump’s valet tests positive for coronavirus in today’s news

Amanda Perez Pintado May 7, 2020

Coronavirus tears through the Navajo Nation 

Amanda Perez Pintado May 7, 2020

In Singapore, spaces close, but restaurants open

Yifan Yu May 6, 2020

Press secretary calls Fauci testifying before congress “publicity stunt”

Kathleen Taylor May 6, 2020

Harry Potter and the Magical Malady of the Movies

Ahad Sanwari May 6, 2020

Trump speaks to human loss, Cuomo lashes out at President’s comments

Catarina Lamelas Moura May 5, 2020

PPE in the city

Narkwor Kwabla May 5, 2020

Boring Politics is Good Politics – Especially in a Pandemic

Serafina Smith May 5, 2020

Stuck: Life under quarantine in Rio de Janeiro

Marina Guimaraes May 5, 2020

New York’s Emptiness

Maria Abreu May 5, 2020

In an Airbnb Room During Lockdown in Jamaica, Queens

Dayo Paul May 4, 2020

What Temporary Means: Portraits of family at home

Guillermo Manning May 4, 2020

Stockholm Stays Open

Tatiana Kireeva May 4, 2020

NYC now producing its own coronavirus test kits

Maureen Mullarkey May 3, 2020

Miss you, mom: Spending Ramadan together through a screen

Maznah Shehzad May 3, 2020

Life in front of a screen

Patricio Zenklussen May 3, 2020

Coronavirus and the Shincheonji

Bessie Liu May 3, 2020

It’s The Little Things

Sope Aluko May 3, 2020

Days In, Days Out: A doctor’s life during Covid-19

Elsa Benamouzig May 2, 2020

Contactless: Food Delivery amid COVID-19

Keighton Li May 2, 2020

Hasidic South Williamsburg Resists the New Reality

Leo Schwartz May 2, 2020