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Exclusive: Crew emerges after 8 months on COVID-free island

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Charlie Thomas, of Auckland, New Zealand, describes what her camp was like on Kure Atoll, during an interview in Honolulu, Nov. 5, 2020. – AP Photo / Caleb Jones

Honolulu-based reporter Caleb Jones landed an all-formats exclusive with his story on four people who spent the last eight months restoring native species and cleaning shoreline on a remote and uninhabited Hawaiian island, and were just now returning to a world beset with the coronavirus.

The four had been essentially isolated on the island, with little contact with friends and family. They generally knew about the pandemic from occasional emails or satellite test messages, but are now seeing firsthand just how different the world had changed since March.

Jones met with the four over several days,getting their stories on video and taking photos before they scattered after their quarantine period. He worked with top stories editor Chris Sundheim on the package’s text and with AP’s Phoenix crew on the video while handling his own photos. And he worked with the sources to ensure AP had the story exclusively, even though one of the four subjects was the son of a New Zealand radio reporter.

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