The threat was there for all to see. But until COVID-19 was suddenly in our midst, could we really have imagined the pain the pandemic would inflict?
Lives upturned. Lives disrupted. Lives on the line. Lives lost.
In the eventful days since March 12, when the first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced in Manitoba, Winnipeg has been facing a test unlike any other in the past century.
We’ve had to retreat from family and friends to isolate at home. We’ve watched jobs being lost as the economy was placed in a coma. We’ve seen schools and streets emptied. Now that we are finally able to venture out more widely, we do so, increasingly, behind masks.
While our city will get through this pandemic, the Winnipeg that emerges will be fundamentally altered from the one we knew prior to the spread of COVID-19.
During the past eight weeks, the Free Press has devoted itself to documenting this historic moment in the nearly 150-year narrative of this city. It has been our duty to create a record of what we have all experienced that will stand the test of time, much like our newsroom’s coverage of the Spanish flu in 1918-19.
As part of that mission, we are proud to present this special project documenting a day in the life of our city in the midst of this pandemic.
Beginning at the stroke of midnight on May 6, we set out to capture an hour-by-hour account of what we are all facing and how we are responding, complete with all the frustration and fear, the resourcefulness and resilience.
At the top of each hour, we moved to the next story and didn’t stop until the clock struck midnight again.
The ambitious assignment involved putting 30 reporters and photographers on the street — a task made all the more daunting because of the challenge of continuing to cover the news of the day.
We had less than 48 hours for our team of editors to sort through the interviews and hundreds of photographs to deliver the package now in your hands.
When I joined the Free Press nearly 32 years ago, I never could have imagined being part of a story such as COVID-19.
My hope is that the journalism we have delivered demonstrates the value of a trusted, independent news source capable of covering the story of our lives with the determination and imagination you deserve.
— Paul Samyn is the Free Press editor