Behold, a world in distress:
A 64-year-old woman weeps, hugging her husband as he lay dying in the COVID-19 unit of a California hospital. A crowded refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, engulfed in flames, disgorges a string of migrants fleeing this hell on Earth. Rain-swept protesters, enraged by the death of George Floyd in police custody, rail against the system and the heavens.
This is the world that Associated Press photographers captured in 2020, a world beset by every sort of catastrophe — natural and unnatural disaster, violent and non-violent conflict.
And, in every corner of that world, the coronavirus.
There are the living: Women cover themselves head to toe with chadors, protective clothing and gas masks to prepare a body for burial in Iran. An octogenarian couple kiss through plastic in Spain.
Women clerics wearing protective clothing and “chador,” a head-to-toe garment, arrive at a cemetery to prepare the body of a person who died from COVID-19 for a funeral, in Ghaemshahr, Iran, on April 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Agustina Canamero, 81, and Pascual Perez, 84, hug and kiss through a plastic film screen to avoid contracting the coronavirus at a nursing home in Barcelona, Spain, on June 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
There are the dead: Relatives, traveling by night and by boat, travel down a Peruvian river to bring a body home for burial. Row upon row of new graves are dug in the largest cemetery in Latin America.
And there are those who negotiate the grim space between life and death — among them, 16 Italian doctors and nurses exhausted from their labors, their faces haunted and haunting.
Amid the pandemic, it was sometimes easy to overlook the world’s other turmoil — and its tragedies. A loving uncle carries his 11-year-old niece away from the devastation of a massive explosion in Beirut — her neck was broken, and her older sister died. In Syria, emergency workers pull the body of a boy killed in a government airstrike from the wreckage.
Wildfires gave the American West an eerie glow; a volcano eruption clouded the sky over Manila.
Across the United States, photographers documented an epic and bilious presidential campaign. An exultant Joe Biden, projected on a massive monitor under fireworks after he accepted the Democratic presidential nomination. A dejected Donald Trump, after a sparsely attended rally in Oklahoma.
And perhaps the most appropriate image of 2020? It was captured during the waves of protests and riots in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. A protester strides past a burning building in Minneapolis; in his hands he holds the American flag.
The flag is upside down — the international signal of distress.
Protesters storm the San Francisco de Borja church, which belongs to the Carabineros, Chile’s national police force, in Santiago, Chile, on Oct. 18, 2020, the first anniversary of the start of anti-government mass protests over inequality. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he stands outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House in Washington on June 1, 2020, after law enforcement officers used tear gas and other riot control tactics to forcefully clear peaceful protesters from the area. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Swarms of desert locusts fly into the air from crops in Katitika village in Kenya’s Kitui county on Jan. 24, 2020. In the worst outbreak in a quarter-century, hundreds of millions of the insects swarmed into Kenya from Somalia and Ethiopia, destroying farmland and threatening an already vulnerable region. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Sneakers and a Los Angeles Lakers jersey with the number 8 worn by NBA star Kobe Bryant hang at a memorial for Bryant in Los Angeles on Feb. 2, 2020, a week after he was killed in a helicopter crash. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
A child wearing a mask to protect against the coronavirus rests on the bank of the Yangtze River in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on April 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
People stand in their balconies during a nationwide confinement to counter the coronavirus in Barcelona, Spain on March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down as he walks past a burning building in Minneapolis on May 28, 2020, during a protest over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Workers move a coffin with the body of a victim of COVID-19 as other coffins are stored waiting for burial or cremation at the Collserola morgue in Barcelona, Spain, on April 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A trail of dust kicked up by a race car rises from the landscape during stage two of the Dakar Rally, between Al Wajh and Neom, Saudi Arabia on Jan. 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A family evacuates to safer ground as the Taal Volcano spews ash in Lemery, Batangas, southern Philippines on Jan. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
A protester poses for photos next to a burning police vehicle in Los Angeles on May 30, 2020, during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island in the Bronx borough of New York on April 9, 2020. Hart Island is a strip of land in Long Island Sound that has long served as the city’s potter’s field. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Men carry rifles near the steps of the State Capitol building in Lansing, Mich., on April 15, 2020, during a protest over Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders to keep people at home and businesses locked during the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Lanes are empty on the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway that leads to downtown Los Angeles on April 26, 2020, as California remains on lockdown to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
People demonstrate outside a burning Arby’s fast food restaurant on May 29, 2020, in Minneapolis during a protest over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Father Vasily Gelevan, a Russian Orthodox priest, blesses Lyudmila Polyak, 86, who is believed to be suffering from COVID-19, at her apartment in Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
President Donald Trump, returning from a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., walks across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington after stepping off the Marine One helicopter, early Sunday, June 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Martina Papponetti, 25, a nurse at the Humanitas Gavazzeni Hospital in Bergamo, Italy, poses for a portrait at the end of her shift on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic on March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Cemetery workers carry the coffin of a person who died of COVID-19 for burial at the Martires 19 de Julio cemetery in Comas, on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, on July 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
Ga Breedlove pauses by the casket of Rep. John Lewis lying in repose at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on July 29, 2020. Lewis, who carried the struggle against racial discrimination from Southern battlegrounds of the 1960s to the halls of Congress, died on July 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Hoda Kinno, 11, is evacuated by her uncle Mustafa on Aug. 4, 2020, shortly after a massive explosion at the port in Beirut, Lebanon. The Kinno family from Syria’s Aleppo region was devastated in the wake of the explosion — Hoda suffered a broken neck and other injuries and her sister Sedra, 15, died in the explosion. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Bill Nichols, 84, works to save the home he has lived in for 77 years as a wildfire tears through Vacaville, Calif., on Aug. 19, 2020. Dozens of wildfires were sparked by lightning strikes during a statewide heat wave. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Blanca Ortiz, 84, celebrates after learning from nurses that she will be dismissed from the Eurnekian Ezeiza Hospital, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Aug. 13, 2020, several weeks after being admitted with COVID-19. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Embers light up a hillside behind the Bidwell Bar Bridge on Sept. 9, 2020, as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif., in this photo taken with a slow shutter speed. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Mary Faye Cochran, 86, sings “You Are My Sunshine” over the phone to her son Stacey Smith through a window on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, 2020, at Provident Village at Creekside senior living in Smyrna, Ga. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)