Americans sunbathed on beaches, fished from boats and strolled on boardwalks this holiday weekend, but the occasional person wearing a mask was a constant reminder that the world is still battling the coronavirus pandemic.
The Memorial Day weekend that signals the start of the U.S. summer is normally a time when cemeteries across the nation fill with American flags and ceremonies to remember those who died in U.S. wars. This year the holiday week is when the U.S. death from COVID-19 is expected to exceed 100,000.
The New York Times filled its entire front page with the names and selected details of 1,000 victims on Sunday to try to capture the humanity of the lives lost.
“We were trying to capture that personal toll,” Marc Lacey, the newspaper’s national editor, told Reuters. “We were trying to humanize these numbers which keep growing and have reached such unfathomable heights that they’re really hard to grasp any more. …This is about everyday people. It’s about a death toll, reaching a number that’s really just jaw-dropping.”
Among the names, drawn from obituaries and death notices in hundreds of U.S. newspapers: Lila Fenwick, 87, the first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law; Romi Cohn, 91, saved 56 Jewish families from the Gestapo; Hailey Herrera, 25, budding therapist with a gift for empathy.
All 50 states have relaxed coronavirus restrictions to some degree. In some states, like Illinois and New York, restaurants are still closed to in-person dining and hair salons remain shuttered. In many southern states, most businesses are open, with restrictions on capacity.