Capturing up-close and personal impacts of COVID-19 in a social distancing Utah

When photojournalists are at their best, they’re often right in the heart of the story. They are getting up-close and personal with their subjects — and it’s that level of intimacy that makes their photo so powerful.

So it’s fair to say that when we first heard the term social distancing, our Deseret News photographers cringed. That’s not in their DNA.

Laura Seitz, a staff photographer with the Deseret News for almost 24 years, is one of the best examples of someone who was deeply affected by the 6-foot social distancing rule. 

When asked to give her thoughts to the challenges of this year as a photojournalist, Seitz shared a quote from acclaimed photographer Robert Capa, who once said “if your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” 

“It’s been challenging for photographers to stay 6 feet away from our subjects. My best photos come from making personal connections through basic interaction; getting close, shaking hands, talking, gaining their trust,” Seitz said.

“The pandemic has made it unsafe to make those connections. Many times I’ve had to stop myself from getting too close, but everyone’s safety is more important,”  Seitz explained.

But as true professionals, throughout this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, they still found ways to make poignant pictures throughout Utah.

They documented as neighbors helped neighbors, communities came together to salute the first responders and front-line workers. As citizens coped with the virus, its economic impact along with the mental and physical toll it took on everyone, the Deseret News photographers were right there with you.

They captured some of life’s most beautiful moments this year amid a truly ugly disease. From the humorous lines for toilet paper we all stood in, to watching relatives visit each other through windows, or the empty streets of an eerily quiet city at sundown during the stay-at-home order for some communities, our photographers made some brilliant images.

Cecilia Ochoa walks out of the Lehi Costco pushing a cart with water, toilet tissue and other items on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Shoppers are being told that they can only buy up to five cases of water and up to three cases of toilet tissue from that store, as they prepare themselves during the coronavirus scare. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) gets ejected from an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, March 9, 2020. The Jazz lost 92-101. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Hospital employees take swabs from people at an appointment-only drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility set up outside University of Utah Health’s South Jordan Health Center on Friday, March 13, 2020. Although the testing facility wasn’t open to the public on Friday, the people were tested anyway. The facility will be operational Monday.
Hospital employees take swabs from people at an appointment-only drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility set up outside University of Utah Health’s South Jordan Health Center on Friday, March 13, 2020. Although the testing facility wasn’t open to the public on Friday, the people were tested anyway. The facility will be operational Monday. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Lily Werner, 8, prays with the Rev. Stephen Tilley, of St. John the Baptist Parish, as he sits in his Jeep for drive-up confessions at a roundabout outside the Skaggs Catholic Center in Draper on Sunday, March 22, 2020. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News
Creekside Assisted Living and Senior Center resident Judy Taylor talks by cellphone to granddaughter Sally Taylor in Bountiful on Friday, March 27, 2020. Family of residents come to the window to see and talk to them via a cell phone due to Covid-19 restrictions. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Barbers wait for customers at Ray’s Barber Shop on Main Street in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 27, 2020. The barbershop is one of the few businesses that is open in downtown Salt Lake City. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Newlyweds Michael and Stephanie Chaus walk out of her parents’ house to cheers and honking horn as family and friends take part in a drive-by reception in Cottonwood Heights on Saturday, March 28, 2020. The couple were to marry April 3 in the Jordan River Utah Temple, but their plans changed due to the spread of novel coronavirus. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Friends and family surprise Nada Stevenson with a drive-by parade in front of her Orem home to celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday, March 28, 2020. “I thought nobody can come ’cause of the quarantine, but they found a way to do it. It was very interesting,” Stevenson said. “I’m very blessed with my family.” | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News
A sign announcing a park in Herriman is closed due to COVID-19 is pictured on Sunday, March 29, 2020. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Vivian Stewart, 13, and her mother, Kelly McConkie Stewart, perform for Helen Gygi in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. The mother/daughter duo have been performing concerts to not only lift their neighbors’ spirits, but their own as well. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Cedarwood at Sandy resident Yvonne Bolingbroke holds a sign for caregivers as community volunteers wave signs for the associates at the senior living community in Sandy on Saturday, April 4, 2020. The idea was to show the community’s appreciation for the caregivers. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Conference Center in Salt Lake City is devoid of conferencegoers before the start of the 190th Annual General Conference on Saturday, April 4, 2020. Due to the spread of COVID-19, the conference is being broadcast without church members in attendance. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Ron and Wendy Van Tienderen, left, participate in the Hosanna Shout as they watch the Sunday morning session of the 190th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with their children at their home in Millcreek on Sunday, April 5, 2020. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Bishop Oscar Solis hands out a palm at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 5, 2020. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Beds and chairs are pictured in the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy on Monday, April 6, 2020. The state contracted with Salt Lake County to use the expo center as a hospital overflow facility for people needing hospital care that’s not related to COVID-19 should the need arise during the pandemic. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
A lone traveler walks to the parking lot of the Salt Lake City International Airport on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced new efforts on Wednesday “to protect the people of Utah and slow the spread of coronavirus in the state” by closely monitoring its borders, as well as passengers who fly into the Salt Lake International Airport. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Matt Lemmon decorated his face mask to surprise his daughter, who he was picking up at the Salt Lake City International Airport on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Skateboarders ride on a nearly empty 900 South near 900 East in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Draper Mayor Troy Walker, left, and the Easter Bunny deliver Easter eggs to Julie Brueck’s daughters Addie, center left, and Ella in Draper on Friday, April 10, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Draper City Parks and Recreation Department created the alternative event for children in order to provide holiday festivities while following Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Residents opted-in for the Easter egg delivery service, resulting in 30,000 eggs being delivered to more than 30 delivery routes to 1,045 households. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Eddie Chavez listens to a song his mother enjoyed while his daughter Karol Chavez, center, and her children Jessedie Chavez, left, and Isaac Chavez, 9, accompany him on a visit to his mother’s cemetery plot on her birthday at Murray City Cemetery on Sunday, April 12, 2020. Eddie Chavez usually visits his mother’s cemetery plot with about 25 members of his family on her birthday, April 11, but he went the following day with only his daughter and grandchildren, who live with him. His sister visited the site Saturday. They have been keeping their distance due to concerns of being considered at high risk of contracting COVID-19. “My sister and I are very close. Wherever I go she goes with me. We get together often as family,” Eddie Chavez said. His sister dropped off homemade masks at the family’s door earlier this week. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News
Bella Johnson, a sixth grade student at Westmore Elementary School in Orem, jumps while wearing a gorilla suit as her sister, Hannah Johnson, holds a sign as teachers from the school parade around Alpine School District neighborhoods to show support for their students on Monday, April 13, 2020. The school moved to remote learning on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News
Vehicles snake around the parking lot of a chapel belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pick up food from the Utah Food Bank in Taylorsville in 2020.
Vehicles snake around the parking lot of a chapel belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pick up food from the Utah Food Bank in Taylorsville on Monday, April 13, 2020. The line continues on the street. The Utah Food Bank estimates they provided food to around 400 families at this location. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
A hand-painted sign on a business in downtown Salt Lake City on Monday, April 13, 2020, reminds Utahns to social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
A pedestrian makes their way through an empty Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City during the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, April 13, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The streets of downtown Salt Lake City are unusually quiet on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
The windows at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City are illuminated in the shape of a heart on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
A single package of toilet paper is all that remains on shelves at a Target in Sandy on Tuesday April 14, 2020. | Chuck Wing, Deseret News
Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, pictured at top on a television monitor in the Senate chamber gallery, gives a thumbs-up as Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, leads the Utah Legislature’s virtual special session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 16, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Vehicles line up for COVID-19 testing outside of the Monument Valley Health Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, on Friday, April 17, 2020. More than a thousand people got tested over the course of two days. The Navajo Nation has one of the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rates in the country. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Denise Begaye, an X-ray technician with the Monument Valley Health Center, sits on a curb and takes a break from COVID-19 testing in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County on April 16, 2020.
“My feet hurt,” says Denise Begaye, an X-ray technician with the Monument Valley Health Center, as she sits on a curb and takes a break from COVID-19 testing outside of the center in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County on Thursday, April 16, 2020. The mobile testing team tested 581 people on Thursday. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Korene Atene, a certified nursing assistant with the Monument Valley Health Center, gets information from people lined up to get tested for COVID-19 outside of the center in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, on Thursday, April 16, 2020. The Navajo Nation has one of the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rates in the country. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Andy Byrnes, a contracted emergency medical technician with the Utah Department of Health, rests on the sidewalk near the end of a second day of testing for COVID-19 outside of the Monument Valley Health Center in Oljato-Monument Valley, San Juan County, on Friday, April 17, 2020. The mobile testing team tested 1,060 people in two days. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
West High School senior Abdalla Dadiri accepts a graduation yard sign from teacher Kathy Barnard at his home in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 23, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
University of Utah Hospital staff clap and wave as firetrucks circle through the entrance of the Salt Lake City hospital during a first responder vehicle parade to honor health care workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic aon Monday, April 27, 2020. Firetrucks, ambulances and police vehicles flashed emergency lights and sounded their sirens as they drove past the hospital. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson wears a mask as Gary Edwards, health department executive director, discusses the county’s phased reopening plan during a press conference at the county’s Emergency Management Emergency Coordination Center in South Salt Lake on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson wears a mask as Gary Edwards, health department executive director, discusses the county’s phased reopening plan during a press conference at the county’s Emergency Management Emergency Coordination Center in South Salt Lake on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Nita Lutes, a resident at Pacifica Senior Living in Millcreek, speaks through a window with Cathy Chambless on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Perry’s Barber Shop owner Perry Knuth cuts his own hair in his empty shop in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. After being closed for several weeks, Knuth was in his shop for a trim and to clean before possibly reopening as COVID-19 restrictions are ease on May 1. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
The Air Force F-35A Lightning II demonstration team performs a flyover above Salt Lake City, on a path covering a large swath of the state, to salute front-line COVID-19 workers on Thursday, April 30, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
University of Utah Hospital nurse Nikole Ihler waves as Hill Air Force Base’s 388th Fighter Wing fly over the hospital.
Nikole Ihler, a nurse in the labor and delivery department at University of Utah Hospital, waves as Hill Air Force Base’s 388th Fighter Wing fly in formation over the hospital in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 30, 2020. The flyover was a “thank you” to health care workers, first responders, military members and essential personnel, as well as those who are staying home to help “flatten the curve” during the coronavirus pandemic. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Ceciley Hallman Herod directs her brother Joseph Hallman to turn his tassel during a mock commencement ceremony in their parents’ Sugar House home amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Hallman earned bachelor’s degrees in Latin American studies, Spanish and international business with an emphasis in trade commerce in 2019 with hopes of walking during the spring 2020 commencement ceremony. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News
Children’s book author Mama Goose, her legal name, poses for a photo while traveling with her husband, Michael Springs, back to Houston at Salt Lake City International Airport on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Like airports all over the world, Salt Lake’s airport has seen air traffic plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Emily Walbeck, left, manager at Lotus Nail Spa in Stansbury Park, applies a full set of acrylics for Sara Young on Friday, May 1, 2020, the first day of eased restrictions meant to stem the spread of COVID-19. Nail salons, gyms and restaurants are among some Utah businesses allowed to open their doors under new guidelines. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Ursula Quintana, center, and her mother, Joleen Rogers, second from left, sit together before Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Elizabeth Montoya, right, delivers food to Macedonia Bonilla who was self-quarantining during the pandemic in the Glendale community of Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 12, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Graduate Jacy Penick, second from right, and a crowd of siblings and cousins celebrate in the back of a pickup truck during a drive-thru graduation ceremony at Provo High School on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
A statue of Abraham Lincoln is fitted with a mask at the Orem Public Library on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Staff members wearing gloves wave to students during a drive-thru graduation ceremony at Alta High School in Sandy on Thursday, May 28, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
A group attends a private screening at the Megaplex Theatres at Legacy Crossing in Centerville on Friday, May 29, 2020. Select Megaplex Theatres have been offering private family screenings for groups of up to 20 people. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Tom Hudachko, director of communications for the Utah Department of Health, wears a mask featuring Delicate Arch while sitting in front of a photograph of Mesa Arch during a press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 11, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Alexis Osborne, a barista at Tulie Bakery, is reflected in the glass door as she delivers a curbside order to a customer in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 26, 2020. The bakery offers takeout and curbside delivery, and customers must wear a mask to enter. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Registered nurse Beth Ann Friel sanitizes her hands at a COVD-19 test center at Intermountain Healthcare’s Salt Lake Clinic on Friday, July 10, 2020. Officials from Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, MountainStar Healthcare and Steward Health Care fear that if COVID-19 cases continue to spike, they will no longer be able to effectively manage all the patients. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
A teacher protests, urging masks in schools.
Katie Isaia, a fifth-grade teacher at Settlement Canyon Elementary School in Tooele, attends a Utah Safe Schools Mask-In urging the governor’s leadership in school reopenings at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, July 23, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Carolyn Savage Wright and her husband, David Wright, of Provo tour the Pioneer Children’s Memorial at This Is The Place Heritage Park.
Carolyn Savage Wright and her husband, David Wright, of Provo tour the Pioneer Children’s Memorial at This Is The Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 24, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Days of ’47 parade was canceled, along with other Pioneer Day celebrations. “We do something pioneer related every year on the 24th,” Savage Wright said. “We want our kids to have that kind of courage, that kind of dedication, and that kind of character that was standard among the pioneers.” | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Amanda Longwell hugs her daughter, Tori, who will be a first grader at Highland Park Elementary School, at their home in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 29, 2020. The Longwells have decided as a family to return to remote learning this fall due to risks to Tori, who has Down syndrome, but also to the entire family. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Sellika Reese, a first grade teacher at Spring Lane Elementary in Holladay, wears a plastic face shield as Granite School District teachers, staff and supporters protest outside of the district office in South Salt Lake on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
The sun sets as Davis plays at Herriman in Herriman on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The game is the first high school football game since the pandemic began. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Jovany Fortes grimaces while receiving a COVID-19 test at a drive-thru at Esperanza Elementary School in West Valley City on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. The Utah Department of Health, in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City and Esperanza Elementary School, invited the community to be tested for COVID-19, free of charge. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Juliet Tuineau, Ray Tuineau’s widow, pours a bucket of soil on her husband’s coffin during a burial service at Valley View Memorial Park in West Valley City on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. Ray Tuineau was one of the more than 380 Utahns who died because of COVID-19. | Yukai Peng, Deseret News
Yihao Qin dons new gloves while working at a COVID-19 test site run by the Salt Lake County Health Department at Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Julie Beane, a Corner Canyon High School teacher, becomes emotional while discussing the health of her friend and co-worker Charri Jensen, who is in the intensive care unit on a ventilator due to COVID-19. Beane stood outside the Canyons School District Board of Education meeting in Sandy on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, voicing her desire for the school board to make clearer guidelines as to how Canyons district schools should determine school closures during a COVID-19 outbreak.
Julie Beane, a Corner Canyon High School teacher, becomes emotional while discussing the health of her friend and co-worker Charri Jensen, who is in the intensive care unit on a ventilator due to COVID-19. Beane stood outside the Canyons School District Board of Education meeting in Sandy on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, voicing her desire for the school board to make clearer guidelines as to how Canyons district schools should determine school closures during a COVID-19 outbreak. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Siri Osthed, a parent of a Corner Canyon High School student, attends a Canyons Board of Education meeting in Sandy on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Dr. Emily Spivak, associate professor of infectious disease at University of Utah Health, left, and state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, right, listen as Gov. Gary Herbert speaks during a COVID-19 press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Family members of inmates incarcerated in the Utah Department of Corrections’ prison system hold candles and say a prayer following a rally outside the Department of Corrections office in Draper on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. The group was there to share concerns about the department’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Chase Schumaker, a Salt Lake County mobile tester, smiles as he administer a COVID-19 test at the county’s testing site in the Maverik Center parking lot in West Valley City on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Brittany Yee, second from right, and Megan Cook, right, both autopsy assistants, bring a body into an exam room while assistant medical examiner Dr. Lily Marsden, left, prepares to perform an autopsy at the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner in Taylorsville on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
People wait in line for a COVID-19 test at a drive-thru testing site at the Maverik Center in West Valley on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Grace Hunt, 8, is tested for COVID-19 at a Utah National Guard Joint Task Force 97 mobile testing site in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. The Guard has approximately 275 service members mapping support for contact tracing, mobile testing, facility assessment and training, and warehouse operations. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Vietnam veteran Warren Craig Eby hugs his friend and neighbor Kelcy Furey as daughter Alissa Allen left, holds his hand, and granddaughter Storme Cooper, right, holds his arm during a welcome home celebration in Saratoga Springs on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. Eby was hospitalized for seven weeks with COVID-19. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News