New York | KUNC

New York

As the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., Dan Flynn made his way from Santa Barbara, Calif., to New York City, joining 58 others as part of a national mortuary response team.

Flynn, a funeral director, has been with the team since 2008. The group helps identify victims and assist with mortuary services to help loved ones find closure. While in New York last month, Flynn assisted with autopsies and photographed, fingerprinted and catalogued bodies.

New York City bus operators Tyrone Hampton and Frank de Jesus have witnessed a crushing loss in their field of work. As of Wednesday, 83 Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers have died from COVID-19, 30 of them also bus operators.

Hampton, 50, and de Jesus, 30, spoke for a remote StoryCorps conversation about how the outbreak is putting their love for the job to the test.

Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic — with tourists gone, and commuters home — about 30,000 people pass through Times Square each day. A new public art project unveiled Friday wants to give them something to look at — visual messages of hope, gratitude and public safety on Times Square's iconic billboards.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

As Kate Moomaw walks amongst the rows of paintings and sculptures in the Denver Art Museum’s collection storage room, you can see that great care has been taken to preserve the works.

According to Kate Moomaw, DAM’s conservationist, there are a lot of tools of the trade: acid-free tissue paper, climate-controlled rooms, eBay.

“Yes, eBay,” Moomaw said.

Jim Saint Germain moved to the U.S. from Haiti as a kid. But the adjustment wasn't easy. He was often in trouble — so often, in fact, that by the age of 14, he was kicked out of his house by his parents.

That's when Saint Germain's middle-school dean, Carlos Walton, stepped in — even offering Saint Germain a place to stay for a short time. As Saint Germain recalls, Walton's house was clean, filled with pictures of black leaders and something more intangible: love.

Just off the boardwalk at Brooklyn's Coney Island sits the New York Aquarium, the oldest continuously operating aquarium in the U.S. Among its many attractions, the place plays host to tiger sharks, sea lions — and one former rock star.

Meet Hans Walters, ex-frontman for the '80s heavy metal band Z Toyz. He's a shark biologist.

When Henry Jimenez got to the airport, shortly before flying from his home in Mexico to the U.S., he says, the goodbyes got difficult.

"My little brother was crying and I tried to act tough on him, but I gave him a hug," Jimenez recalls. "I've never gave him a hug like that before, and I started crying, too."

On Sept. 11, 2001, Isaac Feliciano dropped his wife off at the subway so she could get to her job at Marsh & McLennan, in the south tower of the World Trade Center. Then, he headed to work himself — at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where he's worked for the past 21 years.

When the plane struck the tower, even as far away as he was, Feliciano was still able to see the damage firsthand.

Mario Loiseau works two jobs, including long hours as a parking lot attendant, to help pay for his 9-year-old daughter Mabou's tutoring. Mabou is a science and language prodigy and is already studying college-level algebra.

"So Daddy, how did you feel when I was born?" she asked her father during a recent visit to StoryCorps in New York City.

In prison, Brian Nelson lived in solitary confinement. That meant 23 hours a day in a small cell. No human contact, except with guards — for 12 years straight.

Then, his prison sentence for murder was over. One moment he was locked down. The next, he was free.

NPR and The Marshall Project, an online journalism group that focuses on the criminal justice system, investigated the release of tens of thousands of prisoners from solitary confinement to find out how many prisoners, like Nelson, go straight from solitary to the streets.

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