UNMASKED! |A Pandemic Photo Project


By Douglas John Imbrogno | WestVirginiaVille.com | june18.2020


Monica Rimer and Shelia Redling | George Floyd Rally, Huntington WV, May 30, 2020 | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

Do we really have to link to stories reminding you to still wear masks on this June day in 2020? And that this pandemic is nowhere near being over as a dozen states which eased up restrictions now face a spike in infections? That far from experiencing a second wave of deadly infections, we’re still in the first, says the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci?

You do the personal math for you and yours. Nonchalance toward masking means we may be unsymptomatic, yet infected, and proceed to infect our child, our grandmother, our best friend. (And don’t be this guy, a figure of authority who resisted lockdown and is now you-know-what.)

Here’s a new phrase to learn: ‘caution fatigue‘ (from this Slate article) It comes when we tire of being in a state of heightened alert and let down our guard while threats remain. Let’s all not do that. If you let down your guard, or I let down mine, one of us—or many of us—might die.

Not cool.

That ends the harangue part of this post. Now, to pictures! This is the start of an occasional WestVirginiaVille series (until a vaccine arrives like a Knight in Shining Armor) of people with their masks on. And off.


T.C. Clemons | George Floyd Rally, Huntington WV, May 30, 2020 | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

Masks are a curious thing, aren’t they? As a journalist for nearly a half-century, I’ve interviewed thousands of people. All of them maskless, of course, until the first months of 2020. Now, I interview masked people, at least initially, until we are able to set safe, CDC-compliant distances. I myself am often wearing a sometimes ridiculous looking hat-and-mask combination (which can make for nasally-sounding interviews).

As a way to document this odd moment in global time, I’ve taken to snapping ‘masked‘ and ‘after-masked‘ portraits of people I interview. Notice how much of all the telling details for communication get concealed by a mask in these photos. How much can we read from the eyes alone?


Mary Williams | George Floyd Rally, Huntington WV, May 30, 2020 | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

Not very much! The dozens of small inflections of the face, most especially the mouth—when cut off by a mask—conceal so much of our ability to “read” the meaning of a person’s face and words.

But enough words. I welcome your own thoughts on these before-and-after unmaskings.


Barry Westmoreland | George Floyd Rally, Huntington WV,, May 30, 2020 | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

Dr. Michael Kilkenny, Physician Director of the Cabell-Huntington Health Department | At Covid-19 Testing Site in heart of African-American community in Huntington WV, on May 22, 2020.| WestVirginiaVille.com photo

Bishop Pastor Charles Shaw of Huntington’s Real Life Christian Center Church. At Covid-19 Testing Site in heart of African-American community in Huntington WV, on May 22, 2020.| WestVirginiaVille.com photo

Ally Layman | George Floyd Rally, Huntington WV,, May 30, 2020 | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

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