And now for the Back Story on …
Capturing Britain’s battle against the coronavirus
The photojournalist Andrew Testa had covered risky situations before, including wars in the Balkans and Afghanistan. But the days he spent covering the intensive care unit of the Homerton hospital in East London for The Times involved danger with every breath. For Times Insider, he wrote about the experience. This is an excerpt.
With this assignment came a new and unfamiliar set of ground rules and procedures designed to protect not only me but also those around me — both at work and at home.
In the Homerton I.C.U.,I switched my day clothes for scrubs and a surgical gown; a close-sealing mask and goggles; overshoes; and a hair covering. I pared down my equipment to two cameras. And at the end of the day’s shooting, I followed a very strict protocol developed by the I.C.U. staff for removing protective gear.
Ultimately, I told myself, I just had to trust my equipment. But there is always gnawing doubt. The coronavirus frightens you twice over: first by its ability to infect you personally, and second by the overwhelming fear that you might inadvertently pass it on to your family.
There is never any question about its power. On my second day in the Homerton I.C.U., two people died within 25 minutes of each other. Usually, the medical authorities try to provide access for family members to say goodbye. But with patients in induced comas and beyond hope, it is a cruelly one-sided exchange of farewells.
And yet the counter-imagery of dedication is always there, too, just as evident in these images as the losses. As one survivor remarked, the medical teams always go the extra mile. “They are blessed,” he said.
That’s it for this briefing. See you tomorrow.
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach Natasha and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the U.S. stimulus plan to recover from the pandemic.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Wouldn’t that be nice!” (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times announced the hires of three experienced journalists for its Live News desk.