When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, inewsource focused on producing journalism that could help San Diegans understand their new reality. At a time when so many were isolated from the outside world, visual journalism became a window through which people could see how their community was responding to the changes taking place due to COVID-19. 

The pandemic has shaped everything that has followed in 2020.

It laid bare hard truths about inequities and injustice in San Diego County and our country, evidenced by thousands turning out to protest the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police while Black and brown men and women were also dying in disproportionate numbers from COVID-19. 

It affected how election workers carried out their jobs, setting up plexiglass barriers and meticulously preparing polling locations for voters to remain socially distanced. The pandemic heightened fears over the health and safety of our region’s large unhoused population as people were encouraged to shelter in the San Diego Convention Center. 

I hope these images offer a clear view of 2020’s harsh realities while allowing us to recognize our shared humanity and resilience.

Birds flock around a trash can on the Mission Beach Boardwalk, March 23, 2020. The same afternoon parks and beaches throughout the city, including the boardwalk, were closed to the public. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

As local hospitals have worked to increase their capacity to treat COVID-19 patients, San Diego area health clinics have also been forced to transform the way they deliver care. Healthcare providers have changed how they live both at work and at home to keep themselves, their patients, and their family’s safe. 

Wind blows through an empty isolation tent set up for patients who arrive with COVID-19 symptoms at La Maestra Community Health Centers’ City Heights clinic, April 8, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Daniel Thomas, a healthcare worker, sits in a hotel in Old Town, April 9, 2020. He stayed there while his wife Barbara awaited the results of her COVID-19 test. After a day of isolating her test came back negative. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

An inewsource analysis done in May revealed that San Diego police during the first months of the pandemic had issued more than twice as many tickets for illegal lodging compared to the same period last year. When asked at news conferences about the ticketing, then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city’s goal was not enforcement but encouraging homeless people to move into the convention center. 

Wanita Long packs up blankets after sleeping on an area of dirt near the Interstate 5 ramp at 17th Street in San Diego, May 20, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Deborah Jackson, who’s been homeless for five years, uses a nebulizer to take albuterol for her asthma and COPD, May 21, 2020. Jackson has been staying in the Alpha Project section of the San Diego Convention Center since late April. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Nothing captures the impact of the pandemic more than the stories of families who have lost loved ones. Some shared their stories with inewsource, hoping others could learn from their experiences.

Letters from Joseph Bondoc’s children asked God to heal their father while he was being treated for COVID-19, June 26, 2020. Bondoc, from National City, died from the virus. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Witchelda Bondoc stands over her husband Joseph Bondoc’s grave at Miramar National Cemetery on June 30, 2020. Bondoc died from COVID-19 in May. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Imperial County’s homeless population topped 1,400 in 2019, with all but 200 of those residents unsheltered. In April, three weeks after a pandemic was declared, one charity found 41 of the 72 homeless residents they encountered hadn’t heard of the coronavirus.

Peter Sanchez, a Navy veteran from Calexico, cleans his hands with wipes handed out by the Brown Bag Coalition at Calexico’s Border Friendship Park, April 21, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

As protests occurred around the nation following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, San Diegans also took to the streets. Police used tear gas and other less-lethal weapons to disperse groups of protesters.

A protester does back handsprings in front of a line of San Diego police officers during a protest of police violence and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, May 31, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource
San Diego County sheriff’s deputies gather inside the County Administration Building as protesters gather outside for a vigil to honor George Floyd and other black men and women killed by police, May 31, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource

To ensure the safety of voters in the November election, San Diego County was forced to make major changes to polling locations and procedures. The Mid-City Gym in City Heights is in a ZIP code that saw the biggest cuts to its number of polling locations in the November election. 

Hector and Maribel Hernandez arrive to vote with their three children at the Mid-City Gym in City Heights, Nov. 3, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
Jamila Demby celebrates the election of Joe Biden as rain pours down on University Avenue in Hillcrest, Nov. 7, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Hugs. Who else misses them? When I saw this moment happen — suddenly and to the surprise of San Diego mayoral candidate Todd Gloria — for a second I didn’t think twice about social distancing or the pandemic. I was just so excited to see two people sharing an emotional moment at a campaign event in 2020. San Diego voters cast ballots in a number of important local races, which received millions in contributions from outside money

San Diego mayoral candidate Todd Gloria is hugged by Elene Bratton at the launch of a drive-thru canvass campaign event hosted by the San Diego Building and Construction Trades on Oct. 24, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

As San Diego County prepared to reopen in May following the first stay-at-home order, officials were concerned that a return to normal could devastate communities in the southern part of the county, which saw an influx of cases at that time.

Poll worker Diago Fuller assists a voter at the Mid-City Gym in City Heights, Nov. 3, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)
A healthcare provider cares for a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, May 1, 2020. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Zoë Meyers is a photo and video journalist at inewsource. Zoë loves working as a visual journalist because it gives her the privilege of witnessing moments in people's personal lives and in our community that can enhance our understanding of important stories. When she's not behind the camera,...