Detroit Free Press investigative reporters worked for months to uncover the identities of Michigan's first victims of COVID-19. Earliest Heartbreak published at the end of 2020 as a testament to the lives we lost as well as government missteps along the way. Over 100 interviews with family members of the deceased were conducted. From those, 20 were selected to recount the lives of their loved ones during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the ongoing nature of the pandemic, these conversations were conducted and recorded by phone. Combined, their voices speak as one and provide a narrative framework for the video. Each family supplied a single portrait of their loved one, which Brian Kaufman printed and filmed in a studio setting.