Chloe Aftel documents COVID-19 in Bay Area

A Journey into Covid-19 Wards for

the San Francisco Chronicle


From the walls of one of the nurse’s station on June 5th, 2020 at Regional Medical in San Jose.


Regional Medical Center in San Jose was one of the hardest hit hospitals on the west coast. COVID-19 ravaged the area. Gaining access to these wards was a very time intensive process for photographer Chloe Aftel, who says she got lucky that a member of their staff was willing to let her in and document. Chloe says she was truly impressed by the amount of rigorous attention to detail by the entire hospital staff and that she felt safer there than in many other places in the world. She observed that they also clearly cared about the people whom they were taking care of, and it was very moving to know that despite their isolation, these people could feel some measure of love and affection while they were ill.

Chloe describes wearing a mask and goggles as well as rigorous and constant hand cleaning as she moved throughout the hospital. After the shoot, there was a very strict procedure of disrobing and laundering any clothing worn that day, followed by a two week quarantine period each time she went in. The end product is an honest and beautiful capture of such a heartbreaking disease, affecting not only those infected by the virus but the caretakers who do everything in their power to save them.

EMS-6 and Street Team Help Keep

San Francisco’s Homeless Safe



Photographing the homeless population affected by COVID-19 was an issue Chloe felt very connected to. After pursuing several outlets, AARP became interested in running this story. Chloe has long been aware of the work the San Francisco EMS-6 and Street Team do to help the homeless and felt compelled to document their efforts. She says it was especially moving to know that there is a community of trained professionals in place to make sure that people are not only able to survive, but to find much needed housing, resources and food as shelter is closed down and resources narrow. Chloe rode around with workers from EMS-6 and Street Team for two days and gained a unique perspective on what this kind of service looks like and how it is done. Chloe’s love for this group of workers and her great affection for everything that they’re doing is palpable in these images.


For more of Chloe’s work, visit