From Lockdown to Vaccine: The Pandemic In Photos By Marfa Public Radio Published March 12, 2021 at 3:24 PM CST Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio In March 2020, counties throughout the Big Bend shut down hotels, motels and short term rentals, hoping to curb the spread of the coronavirus during its tourism season. In the last year, Marfa Public Radio reporters and photographers have captured the unforgettable moments of the pandemic, taking snapshots of daily life throughout the Permian Basin and the Big Bend region. Mitch Borden / Marfa Public RadioLast year, an eerie quiet—brought on by the pandemic and a price war over oil—settled across West Texas oil fields as prices plummeted and drill sites in the Permian Basin cleared out. Sarah Vasquez for Marfa Public Radio West Texas Food Bank volunteers and employees unloading crates of food to give out in Presidio, where food distribution has seen a boom in demand as the economic fallout of the pandemic caused more people to become food insecure. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioWith little capacity to hold their own testing for COVID-19, counties throughout the Big Bend region relied on testing from the Texas National Guard. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioAt Marfa Independent School District, the pandemic completely changed the school year. The traditions and milestones seniors would celebrate were done differently, or canceled altogether. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioWhen coronavirus cases in the Big Bend region surged to record highs in the fall, tourist traffic to the area was steady, leading to tension and frustration in Marfa and the Big Bend. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioSigns reminding locals and visitors alike of coronavirus precautions to take were soon posted throughout Marfa. Mitch Borden / Marfa Public RadioWhen the school year started again, barriers were installed in classrooms, desks moved six feet apart, and face coverings required. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioOver the course of the pandemic, the number of people visiting Big Bend National Park has fluctuated wildly — first dropping to all-time lows in spring 2020, then smashing records in the final months of 2020. Mitch Borden / Marfa Public RadioWhen vaccine distribution began to slowly rollout, hundreds of residents throughout West Texas lined up for their first dose in Odessa. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioAs of March 12, close to 40% of the Big Bend region's population who are 16 and older have gotten a vaccine for COVID-19, according to state data. That’s double the state average. While the region is sparsely populated, the Big Bend, like other rural communities, has had difficulty access vaccine doses. Carlos Morales / Marfa Public RadioDuring one of the first large-scale vaccination events in Fort Davis, residents wait 15 minutes after receiving their first dose to see if they feel any side effects.