Imagine that 15 passenger jets full of Covid-19 patients crashed today, all across the United States, and killed everyone on board. Because that’s what happened minus the airplanes. 3,124 deaths from coronavirus were reported across the US on Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins’ tally, making this the highest single day reporting of daily new deaths since the pandemic began.
At this rate, the official death toll in the US will surpass 300,000 this weekend.
Multiple news outlets noted that Wednesday’s coronavirus death toll surpassed the toll on 9/11. “The Rachel Maddow Show” led with this graphic, also factoring in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire:
Kessler said that “grief must be witnessed,” but so many Covid-19 deaths are happening out of sight. And “even if you could see what we see,” in hospital wards, “I think it’s not psychologically possible for people to grasp the enormity of this,” Dr. Esther Choo said on the program. “And yet we need people to absorb enough of the tragedy that it actually drives their behavior so that we can get to the other end of the pandemic.”
This requires creative storytelling, careful access to hospitals, and compassionate news coverage.
“Will people remember where they were?”
Imagine what could have been…
Public health communication is pivotal in a pandemic. And yet the federal government has failed to communicate. Individual agency leaders and task force members have tried and tried, and they deserve credit, but the Trump WH has abjectly failed. Where were the “fireside chats” early on, the public service announcements, the rallying moments? Where were the creative uses of media to motivate the public to fight a common enemy? It feels too late now. But I keep thinking about all the awful missed opportunities.
300,000 individual stories
The human cost of Covid-19 is covered one by one, story by story, obit by obit. Last week Rebecca Lopez, a veteran reporter for WFAA TV in Dallas, paid tribute to her mother Amalia Gonzales, who died on Thanksgiving.