That day, Judi Wilfore, the house manager for the Imperial Theater, remembers standing in the lobby before the scheduled evening performance of “Ain’t Too Proud” and breaking the news to ticketholders. Even though Broadway shut down on a Thursday, Wilfore came to work that weekend, too, in case any audience members showed up.

Over the summer, Wilfore decided that she needed to find work elsewhere, so she took an online course at Health Education Services, to get certified as a Covid compliance officer. At Friday’s event in Times Square, it was her job to make sure people were following safety guidelines and to manage a team of front-of-house theater staffers who were hired to help run the event.

Wilfore has been a compliance officer for gigs here and there — including the load-out of the “Beetlejuice” set from the Winter Garden Theater — but like many in the industry, she yearns for the eventual return to indoor theater, where she oversaw the bustling movements of staffers and audience members.

“We love what we do,” she said, “and the fact that we haven’t been able to do it in a year is unfathomable.”

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Photographer Captures Economic Impact of Covid on New York

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Last year, as the coronavirus began spreading in New York, I worked closely with Renee Melides, a photo editor on the Business desk, on a photo essay that visualized the city as it became a global epicenter of the pandemic. When that piece was just a concept and life still seemed somewhat normal, the two of us sat over a coffee. To this day, it’s the only time I’ve had an editor green light an idea mid-pitch.

“Yes,” Renee said, interrupting me. “Do it. Now.” And I walked outside and started photographing.

Back then, anxiety and uncertainty dominated New York, and when the story ran, it led with an image of a man praying during a meal in a Greenwich Village McDonald’s.

With that story published, I pulled back from daily assignments as a freelance photographer in an attempt to understand the virus, as well as the risks that my family and I faced. I never stopped working, though. Instead, I moved through many parts of New York on long daily runs. Nine miles out, nine miles back. I’d pass through different neighborhoods, assessing and acknowledging changes by shooting on my iPhone.

posting it, I received a note from my editor, Renee.

photo essay is my requiem to the New York that we knew before the pandemic, but also a love letter to the resilient people who never gave up.

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