The contest between story and statistic began with the second death. More than eighty-three thousand people have died of COVID吻胸口解内衣-19 in the United States alone—one every minute last month, several hundred a day in some cities. One of the many challenges the crisis has presented is how to count so many deaths; another is how to honor them. It is not safe to gather for individual funerals or memorials, much less for community-wide vigils at city halls or courthouses, the way we have in the past for victims of gun violence or acts of terrorism or natural disasters. Some states have ordered their flags to be flown at half-staff to remember the dead, but there has been no national moment of silence or day of mourning, no collective call to pause and grieve together.
A few television news programs, including “All In with Chris Hayes,” Nicolle Wallace’s “Deadline: White House,” and “PBS NewsHour,” have committed to airing weekly or daily memorial segments, an echo of the way the names of casualties of war were read aloud in decades past, and many religious organizations have added prayers for those who mourn and requiems for those who have died to their regular worship services. But the dead, especially as the pandemic takes an ever-greater toll, too easily dissolve into a plural noun, their identities fading as their number grows. Such is the perverse mathematics of tragedy: the staggering specificity of any one life lost; the overwhelming obscurity of lives lost. In the early days of the virus, it was possible to read about individual cases as they were diagnosed, and then every individual death as it was announced, but, as the virus spread into all fifty states and the death count grew, it became difficult to keep pace.
Already, even though the tragedy is far from over, it is almost impossible to comprehend its scale. If you have ever read some of the nearly three thousand names carved into bronze parapets around the edges of the reflecting pools at the World Trade Center, or seen even a portion of the more than forty-eight thousand memorial panels of the AIDS Quilt, or walked along the granite wall of the Vietnam Memorial etched with fifty-eight thousand names, then you have been moved and sobered by mass deaths that are now dwarfed by our current one. Even just speaking the names of those Americans who have so far died of COVID-19 would take more than three days.
Yet one way of recognizing the dead is taking place all around us, even under our strange and isolated conditions. In the search for plague literature吻胸口解内衣 these last few weeks—the welcome if grim resurgence of interest in Albert Camus and Daniel Defoe, Boccaccio and Thucydides—we have perhaps overlooked its simplest form. The obituary is an ancient genre, sometimes arranged into verse but more often written in prose, originally carved into stone, then recorded on scrolls, and lately printed in newspapers or hosted on Web sites. Although an obituary is still wildly far from complete as a record of a life, it is as close as we come in times like these to squaring the demands of statistic and story; obituaries are a way to memorialize the dead in a few hundred or thousand words, ostensibly reporting the facts of people’s deaths, but also recording the facts of their lives. An obituary may be the briefest kind of biography, but, in the age of the coronavirus, even they have started to run long—not individually but, tragically, collectively.
Individual obituaries are measured in words or inches, but lately their page counts have become notable. , a daily newspaper in Brockton, Massachusetts, went from three obituaries the week of the first coronavirus case in its county to three pages of obituaries four weeks later. In New Orleans, the has seen more than double its usual number of obituaries for weeks now; in New Jersey, went from seventeen obituaries one week last year to a hundred and nine that same week this year. Across social media, users have shared videos of themselves or posted of all the pages of death notices, the into a yearbook of the dead. So drastic is the increase that the news desks of some of these outlets are quantifying the change, confirming for readers that, yes, there are many more obituaries than usual. That increase is not just because of the coronavirus but also because families, unable to gather to eulogize the dead together in person, are turning more frequently to death notices to inform their communities and commemorate the loss of a loved one.
吻胸口解内衣These obituaries appear in many different venues. There are online portals for obituaries, and funeral homes often host Web pages for the dead whose services they handle. But newspapers continue to offer the experience of print and paper, a physical remembrance that can be clipped and placed in a family Bible or tucked into a picture frame, and it is in these pages that the quantity of lives lost feels most visible. So is the reason we lost them. Taken together, these obituaries illustrate some of the trends that scientists and epidemiologists have been warning us of: not only that so many could die but that the elderly would die in larger numbers; that certain professions, from doctors to grocery clerks, were more vulnerable; and that the racial disparities that plague our health system under the best of times would be reflected, or even intensified, by the pandemic. But the obituaries themselves can replicate some of these same biases: for those submitted by private individuals, the time and resources required to produce them and pay for their placement are more easily borne by some families than others; for those produced by professional writers, systemic biases can make some lives seem more newsworthy than others.
吻胸口解内衣Of all forms of obituary, paid death notices are the most threadbare, generally just indicating the name of the deceased and the date of death—a perfunctory, quasi-official public statement originally intended to let heirs and creditors know how to collect their inheritance or debt. Even those are welcome during social distancing, when it is more difficult to spread the word that someone has died. For a nominal fee, survivors can buy extra words, paying for as much additional space as they want in order to share whatever information about the deceased they see fit. Obituaries offer a chance to revel in the distinctiveness of those we knew: the way they cooked their pasta, how they spent their misspent youth, where they went on their honeymoon, or why they never left home.
This distinctiveness is especially stark when so many remarkably different lives have ended because of the same disease. Obituaries are how we know that among those who have died from COVID-19 in this country are of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, who years later had a son born on December 7th; , the daughter of a coal miner and a cook, who died, at the age of twenty-eight, in a health clinic in the Navajo Nation, leaving behind a year-old daughter; and from Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, married for seventy-three years, who died within a few hours of each other, their hospital beds moved close together so that they could hold hands. We know that the virus took in Illinois, born with an immune deficiency, who loved memes and electronic music, and died two weeks after her eighteenth birthday; as well as from Colorado, who came out of retirement to drive an ambulance in New York City and got the virus three weeks later. A parade of ambulances and fire trucks escorted his body to the airport; another was waiting in Denver to carry him home. Obituaries are also how we know about some of the many other deaths caused less directly by the coronavirus, including that of a from Maine, who died from an overdose after nearly a year’s sobriety, when he could no longer attend recovery meetings in person.