'Eyewitness to a Pandemic' docuseries captures how coronavirus changed New York region

How COVID-19 changed NYC and the New York region
NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's the story that has upended life around the world, but the impact has been the greatest here, in the New York area. Eyewitness News will tell the story in the way that only New York's No. 1 News can in our new docuseries, 'Eyewitness to a Pandemic'.

Eyewitness News reporter Jim Dolan will explain how we got here, what we're doing to get through it and help chart what lies ahead as we reopen into a very uncertain new world, familiar yet full of risk.

The multipart series debuted on Friday, June 5, exclusively on the ABC7NY apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. To stream, search "ABC7 New York" in the app store.

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Episode One: An Invisible Menace
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Jim Dolan begins our story at the end of last year, as hundreds of thousands pack into Times Square to ring in 2020. Unbeknownst to us, a health crisis that would make such a mass gathering illegal and deadly, transform daily life, kill tens of thousands of our neighbors and cripple the economy was already forming in China.


Jim Dolan begins our story at the end of last year, as hundreds of thousands pack into Times Square to ring in 2020. Unbeknownst to us, a health crisis that would make such a mass gathering illegal and deadly, transform daily life, kill tens of thousands of our neighbors and cripple the economy was already forming in China.

Jim looks at the initial reports in the US, including the early stories on Eyewitness News. We look at the public voices on this crisis, and who saw it coming, and who dismissed it. We examine the flare-ups out west, the ghosting of Chinatown, a foreshadowing of what was to come for the region at large.

Episode Two: An Impending Nightmare
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The sense of doom grew, especially after March 1, when the first confirmed case arrived in Manhattan. Soon, there was a hotspot in New Rochelle, and small curfews and containment zones across the area offered a hint of a frightening future we still thought we could avoid.



The sense of doom grew, especially after March 1, when the first confirmed case arrived in Manhattan. Soon, there was a hotspot in New Rochelle, and small curfews and containment zones across the area offered a hint of a frightening future we still thought we could avoid.

New York was on the verge of being placed "on pause" in an audacious last-ditch effort to save lives and "flatten the curve," a term most of us had never heard before, but that all of us would soon be part of carrying out.

"The days ahead would be nothing like the days that preceded them and they would move at breakneck speed as the virus and the victims it claimed would soon overwhelm the health care system, the government response, and the mighty worlds of business and finance. Lives would be changed forever and so many lives would be lost. But there are stories too of heroism and sacrifice... Of public service and pitching in. Eyewitness News was there for every step."

Episode Three: New York on Pause
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The novel coronavirus was just starting to show its teeth in New York and New Jersey as Winter turned to Spring. People were dying already, but we were only starting to feel the wave of death, anguish, and need that was heading our way.


Empty streets. Empty clubs. Abandoned office buildings and deserted restaurants. Empty pews in the church and empty seats on the train. In a city of crowds, the people who made up the crowds suddenly scared to death of them.

The novel coronavirus was just starting to show its teeth in New York and New Jersey as Winter turned to Spring.

People were dying already, but we were only starting to feel the wave of death, anguish, and need that was heading our way.

Episode Four: The Apex
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It overwhelmed the health care industry, it put millions out of work, it drowned social services in an ocean of need and threatened the food supply Americans had long since taken for granted. At the apex of the crisis and for the weeks that followed, no part of life, or even what followed life, was spared.


As New York and New Jersey approached the height of the coronavirus pandemic, they were battling on every front a virus that had dug deep trenches and attacked, not just the people, but the very society they created.

It overwhelmed the healthcare industry, it put millions out of work, it drowned social services in an ocean of need and threatened the food supply Americans had long since taken for granted.

At the apex of the crisis and for the weeks that followed, no part of life, or even what followed life, was spared.

Episode Five: Other Side of the Mountain
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The virus, ghastly in its death toll and unyielding in its horror, was claiming hundreds of more lives each day, but hospital admissions in April started to decline.


The virus, ghastly in its death toll and unyielding in its horror, was claiming hundreds of more lives each day, but hospital admissions in April started to decline.

The darkest day in a grim season of darkness would come on April 8th. 800 people in New York state alone would die that day from COVID-19 related illness.

But then, on April 9th, the state had reached its apex of COVID-19 related deaths and would begin now the slow, painful march down the other side of this somber mountain.

Episode Six: To the Streets
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Suddenly, the brutal death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis filled the streets of a nation with rage and sorrow. New York was no different. Protesters put the fear of the virus aside and took to the streets by the thousands. Abandoning the safety and comfort of social distance, to demand social change.


During its Spring long rampage through New York and New Jersey, COVID-19 exposed a health care system unprepared for a pandemic of its scope and virulence. But something much older and ingrained and even more insidious was now re-emerging to rattle the nation in ways COVID-19 never did.

Suddenly, the brutal death of George Floyd while in the custody of police officers in Minneapolis filled the streets of a nation with rage and sorrow. New York was no different. African Americans, enraged at the death of yet another unarmed black man at the hands of police, had also been hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.

But protesters put the fear of the virus aside and took to the streets by the thousands. Abandoning the safety and comfort of social distance, to demand social change.

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