Most weeks, deciding what to put on our cover is the subject of great internal debate. This week, it was simple. TIME reports on the people who shape the world, and the cover often features the most influential among them: heads of state, titans of industry, icons of culture.
Yet today, even the most powerful people in our society are at the mercy of a virus that knows no rank and no title. Though some in politics and business have risen to the occasion, and some countries—like Taiwan and South Korea—have managed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, many governments around the globe have been on their heels, ignoring years of warnings about the threat of pandemic and then wasting precious time in fighting this virus’s spread. Meanwhile, the kinds of international collaboration that have helped lead the world through previous crises are virtually absent.
And so this fight is being waged in large measure by frontline responders, from the medical workers risking their lives to the delivery people and pharmacy employees who aren’t able to stay in their homes to the coroners who are confronting wartime body counts. This issue is dedicated to them.
On the cover, we feature five courageous individuals from across different regions. Inside, you’ll find their stories and those of dozens more around the world, often in their own words and illustrated with their own photographs. They are what influence looks like today.
While frontline workers face significant danger in their work, reporting alongside them brings its own set of challenges. National correspondent Charlotte Alter spent a shift with Yonkers, N.Y., paramedic Alanna Badgley, and veteran war photographer Christopher Morris documented the overwhelming work of coroner Michael Fowler in Albany, Ga. We also asked photographer turned paramedic Danny Kim to document his harrowing experience over the course of a week responding to likely COVID-19 patients in New Jersey. “I really want our voices to be heard,” Kim says. “I want our story to be told from us directly.”
With TIME’s offices closed, working remotely has presented a host of obstacles, not the least of which includes creating video that is normally made with access to on-site servers and equipment. To accompany this issue, working with creativity and caution, our team created six rich videos told from the point of view of those immersed in the fight against this pandemic. Like the photographs in the magazine, much of the video footage was taken by the people on the front lines themselves. You can watch these videos at time.com/frontline-heroes.
We are also pleased to launch a new video collaboration between TIME and journalist Katie Couric, who will be interviewing frontline heroes and working with us to cover the health and wellness crisis that we’re all confronting together today.
As we put this issue together, our staff also felt it was important to look at what those of us who aren’t on the front line can do to help. Of course, the most important thing—as many of the first responders we spoke to reminded us—is to stay at home to slow the spread of COVID-19. But millions around the world are searching for ways to donate their time or money, and so our team has put together a list of charities and causes worth your attention. You’ll find them at time.com/giving. You can also sign up there to be part of the TIME for Giving community as it grows, and receive periodic updates on ways to give and stories of those deserving support.
I hope you’ll join us.