October 29, 2020

Meet the Heroes Fighting on the Front Lines Against Covid-19

Producers/Directors Samantha Stark, Alexandra Garcia, John Pappas, Lora Moftah

Watch on Friday at 10 p.m. on FX and streaming on Hulu.

As the first Covid-19 patients started showing up in New York City emergency rooms, the doctors and nurses on the front lines were resolute. After months fighting the coronavirus’s early onslaught — often without adequate protection and support — they were confused, frightened and exhausted.

The New York Times gave cameras to health care workers at the height of the city’s coronavirus crisis and asked them to keep video diaries of their lives as they cared for their patients, their families and themselves. Their stories serve as a warning for other parts of the country where coronavirus cases are surging.

Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

“Once you see what we’re seeing and experiencing, it’s hard to not feel anxious or upset,” said Dr. Saleena Subaiya, an epidemiologist working in emergency medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Subaiya and her colleagues in hospitals around New York faced a seemingly endless stream of desperately ill patients, one worse off than the next.

“Death is everywhere,” said Dr. Sameer Khanijo, who works in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Northwell Health. “We do our best to fight it. We do our best to stave it off. But we’re having a hard time right now.”

Their fight against the virus was made harder, and more dangerous, by a lack of protective gear and conflicting guidance from public health officials. Many health care workers got sick, and the relentlessness of the virus left even the most confident professionals doubting their training, and themselves.

Senior Editor Liz Day
Director of Photography Jaron Berman
Video Editors Geoff O’Brien, Marlon Singleton and Pierre Takal
Associate Producer Wesley Harris

The New York Times Presents is a series of documentaries representing the unparalleled journalism and insight of The New York Times, bringing viewers close to the essential stories of our time.