Invisible Monster

Invisible Monster - The COVID-19 Pandemic

Photography by the Members of American Reportage • Story by Rod Lamkey Jr.

In a faraway land across a vast ocean, in a place called Wuhan, it was the dead of winter when the rumors of sickness and death first appeared like a whisper in the falling snow. Rumors of an outbreak, a deadly virus, moved fast and the spread of this invisible monster from this faraway land, was getting closer, and closer still, to places around the world. The whisper grew louder and the skies grew darker. The snow melted.

Across the ocean for hundreds of miles to the east, the invisible monster known as COVID-19, arrived in the Pacific Northwest, on the shoulders of a 35 year-old man. After visiting his family in the land of Wuhan, he returned to the United States and after four days, brought himself to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County, Washington. 

That was the beginning of the journey of the invisible monster.

Still the whispers of this monster were shunned by the leaders of the United States government, a government meant to protect its citizens against such evil things. And for quite some time not much happened.

While boys played catch with their fathers on fresh cut grass, the shelves in stores were left bare and the lines were long. An initial short-lived panic ensued. No meat, no milk, no eggs. Not even toilet paper was to be found and the people of this land had to fend for themselves against the invisible monster and protect each other from sickness and death. And the numbers of people who got sick increased, and more people were dying all around the world and the morgues were overflowing and the bodies were piling up and mass graves were being dug. The known unknowns sent the people into their houses with their food and toilet paper and the streets were deadly quiet and still they did their best to live with each other yet without each other.

Hope was glint of warm sunlight on an elderly man all alone in an empty hospital room, a surgical mask hiding the lines on his face, a ventilator to help his breathing. Maybe he lives. Maybe he dies. In his last moments of life, who will be there for his last breath? Who will hear his dying words?

In the Spring the cherry blossoms were beautiful, as if God himself had sprinkled pink and white dust on the treetops, and the sun came out and it was warm. Yet still, the people were scared, and their faces were hidden behind light green hospital masks and purple rubber gloves covered calloused hands and wedding rings. The closeness of humanity was soon separated by six feet. Parking lots at the grocery stores were littered with rubber gloves, used disinfectant wipes, cigarette butts and potato chip bags.

These are the days of a people around the world, in lands far away, with their beautiful languages all speaking with one voice to find a cure to beat COVID-19, the invisible monster. 

Hope? It springs eternal.

Humanity abides.


Considering the health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of American Reportage are taking precautions to keep ourselves and our families, loved ones and friends safe while continuing to cover the pandemic’s effects on the people of the United States.


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