In April, I began photographing how the coronavirus is affecting communities across the Midwest, using a drone in addition to my usual cameras. When I meet people, I hold up my drone and ask, “May I take your picture with my flying social distance camera?” A common Midwest response, and my favorite, is, “Do what you’ve got to do.”
April 9, 2020 Surrounded by balloons and signs, Dave Lundberg celebrates his 50th birthday from his front yard in Farmington, Minnesota, greeting well-wishers as they drive by honking their horns.
April 3, 2020 Empty of traffic, the Hennepin Avenue bridge spans the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A drone is the perfect camera for capturing the bleakness of landscapes and towns stricken by the pandemic.
St. Paul, Minnesota
April 26, 2020 Worshippers at the New Hope Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, wear masks and keep their distance during Sunday morning services. The church, which had been holding drive-in services in its parking lot, invited congregants to return to the pews with new safety precautions in place—and a live streaming broadcast for those who prefer to stay home.
April 3, 2020 Minnesota native Bob Dylan is depicted in a mural—titled The Times They Are A-Changing—overlooking the vacant streets and parking lots of downtown Minneapolis.
Lake Mills, Iowa
April 11, 2020 Dressed as a mask-wearing Easter Bunny, Treize VanHeiden delivers Girl Scout cookies on Easter weekend in Lake Mills, Iowa. He and his mother, Ona VanHeiden, sought to celebrate the holiday responsibly after the local egg hunt was canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Grand Island, Nebraska
May 6, 2020 Members of the Nebraska National Guard conduct mobile testing at the State Fairgrounds in Grand Island, Nebraska, as part of the Test Nebraska initiative. The community became a COVID-19 hotspot after hundreds of workers at the JBS meatpacking plant tested positive. The plant has not closed during the pandemic.
April 27, 2020 A wild turkey walks past an Apple store in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood, where businesses had been shuttered for weeks.
April 24, 2020 Protesters, some carrying weapons, rally around the Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison, calling for Governor Tony Evers to reopen the state after weeks of living under a stay-at-home order. On May 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the governor's order, ruling it "unlawful" and "unenforceable.”
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
April 16, 2020 Outside the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a maintenance worker waits for public transportation. The plant was temporarily closed in April when it became the epicenter of a large cluster of COVID-19 cases, with more than 800 of its 3,700 workers testing positive.
April 25, 2020 Lindsey Fulton, owner of Blondie’s Butcher Shop, stands over a butchered hog in Wanamingo, Minnesota. When regional pork processing plants closed temporarily due to coronavirus outbreaks, her small business worked overtime to accommodate local farmers.
April 11, 2020 Residents take a walk on an otherwise empty street in Hartland, Minnesota.
April 27, 2020 Customers keep their distance as they line up at The S’Cream, a walk-up ice cream shop in Owatonna, Minnesota. Nancy and Gale Crandall, who have owned the shop for more than 25 years, consulted with a state food inspector before reopening on March 29. “Our customers were reaching out to us for comfort food at a time when not many things as we know it were normal,” says Gale Crandall.
April 25, 2020 A lone walker gets some exercise on a long country road outside of Zumbrota, Minnesota. The state went on lockdown on March 27 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The order, which has since been relaxed, allowed for socially distant recreation in addition to essential needs and services.
April 25, 2020 Brontie Jeffers’ grandchildren play in their backyard in Austin, Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz closed the state’s public schools on March 18, tasking them with developing distance learning plans instead.
April 5, 2020 In northern Minnesota, the parking lot at the Church of St. Patrick sits empty during what would have been Sunday mass.
May 3, 2020 Family members wait in their classic car to lead a parade through downtown Casey, Iowa, celebrating graduates of the high school class of 2020.
April 9, 2020 Snow falls on a roadside statue of Bigfoot wearing a face mask in Knapp, Wisconsin.