How Reuters captured the coronavirus outbreak in a long-term care facility in Kirkland, Washington - Reuters News Agency

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How Reuters captured the coronavirus outbreak in a long-term care facility in Kirkland, Washington

Workers wear protective suits and gloves outside Life Care Center of Kirkland, a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases, in Kirkland, Washington, U.S., March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson - RC2KIF9FVMXD

By Reuters Communications

A long-term care facility in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington, was the site of one of the first outbreaks of the coronavirus in the United States and illustrated how fast the virus can spread through an elderly care facility. As nations across the globe are grappling with how to protect older people, who are especially vulnerable to serious effects of the illness.

A team of photographers for Reuters–David Ryder, Lindsey Wasson, Brian Synder and Jason Redmond–were on the ground in Kirkland to capture the impact the virus had on the community at Life Care Center nursing home, as well as offer a glimpse inside one family’s coronavirus ordeal.

On her experience covering the story on-the-ground, Lindsey said, “As someone who grew up not too far away, it always feels like a true spectacle when our local news becomes the focus of the nation. Fellow Reuters photographers David Ryder, Jason Redmond and I rotated shifts so someone was there for most of the daylight hours. In that way, we were able to create a visual narrative of the center, and make valuable contact with family members who wanted to get the word out about the situation.”

On some of the challenges in covering the story, Wasson explained, “Shifts at the Life Care Center consisted of waiting across the street for hours, watching the building for pockets of activity: ambulances arriving, delivery trucks pulling up with nondescript boxes, family members stopping by windows to talk to their loved ones. You need to be there to help tell the story, but it’s difficult not to feel intrusive. I can’t imagine what it’s like as a resident to essentially be trapped inside, seeing this all unfolding out your window, all while losing friends. I try to do my best to approach this with as much empathy as possible, and hopefully that comes through.”

As a photojournalist documenting a global pandemic, Wasson gives perspective on how the coronavirus is unfolding around the world. She says “One of the keywords I keep coming back to is uncertainty. Covering this story has felt a bit like trying to juggle while holding on to the roof of a swerving car: Every day has brought something new, and it’s been hard to keep up with all the possible stories and changes. As I’ve never covered any kind of pandemic before, there’s been a lot of learning on the job about best practices for health and safety specifically for this disease.”

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[Reuters PR Blog Post]

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