A little US city, battered by the virus, tells its stories

Gilda Hernandez visits the grave of her mother, Maria Cristina Pineda, who died of COVID-19, as she prays with her husband, Mario, right, and sons, Christian, 12, left, and Angel, 8, at a cemetery in East Providence, R.I., Sunday, May 2, 2021. Pineda, of Guatemala, who had spent more than 20 years working as a babysitter in New York, came to Central Falls 14 years ago and moved in with the family. When the virus began to spread her mother became terrified of going to the hospital, seeing it as a place where people went to die. Even when she became sick and even when she stopped eating, she refused to be hospitalized: “She kept saying she felt fine.” She only agreed to be hospitalized after a nurse came to the house and found her oxygen levels dangerously low. Gilda dropped her off. “I gave her a hug and that was the last time I saw her.” (AP Photo/David Goldman)

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — The beleaguered people of Central Falls moved quickly through the high school gym’s injection stations and then to rest on dozens of metal folding chairs, borrowed from the Knights of Columbus.