SAN ANGELO, TX — From his hospital bed at Shannon Medical Center, John Basquez, the operations director and creative artist for San Angelo LIVE!, said people aren’t taking COVID-19 as seriously as he thinks citizens should. He has been creating the art for the COVID-19 stories on LIVE! since the pandemic began.
The first several stories used the generic SARS-CoV-2 model provided by the Centers for Disease Control. As the volume of stories increased daily, the website needed a variety of images to reflect the subject matter of each of the articles. Otherwise, the articles would run together. That’s when Basquez’s coronavirus art series began.
“At first we had no cases, but my friends and family were panicking. I visualized what they saw,” Basquez said. “Everywhere around them outside was this red or green monstrous molecule ready to take them away.”
Basquez pieces together official photos of San Angelo’s skyline with variations of the coronavirus “It was a play on the hyperbole of the pandemic,” Basquez said. Other graphics were created for Midland, Abilene, and Lubbock.
As the cases mounted, however, Basquez changed his view of the coronavirus. Now well into middle age and health-compromised, Basquez said he began to worry about his own vulnerability to catching COVID-19. He purchased masks for staff at San Angelo LIVE! to wear and stayed mostly to himself in his office or at home.
Today he hears first-hand accounts from healthcare workers who have to face patients infected with COVID-19. The San Angelo Health Authority reported the 19th death from COVID-19 Sunday. There are around 40 people hospitalized with the disease as of Sunday, a number that is creeping up slowly, but not as quickly as the daily case count.
As of Sunday, July 26, the regional trauma area where San Angelo is the primary healthcare center has dealt with 1,965 cases since the local health authority began counting in March 2020.
Basquez’s art is created with Adobe Photoshop. “It’s really just the merging of various ideas together. Men in hazmat suits, the coronavirus as seen under a microscope, and selecting the right colors. Usually green,” he said. The art has gone generally unnoticed until Basquez introduced the image of the Grim Reaper on Saturday. It blew up the Internet.
“The grim reaper was my idea,” Basquez said. “COVID-19 is real. I wanted to convey that.”