In New York City, a woman opens her laptop to a bar graph showing the number of COVID-19 deaths nationwide each month in 2021 and fixes her gaze on April. She tells a researcher: “My mother is one of them.” The graph helps her see that her mother is “part of something bigger happening to the country,” she says.
In the nation’s capital, a man kneels on a patch of grass near the Washington Monument to place a white flag in honor of his brother. He gestures to the field of 700,000 flags around him — each representing someone who, like his brother, died of COVID — and asks: “How can people not see that this is a national tragedy?”
With the rollback of mask mandates and increased demands for a return to “normal,” survivors feel left behind, their grief unseen. Worse yet, many face the outright denial of their loss, especially when they read social media posts that claim the death rates are exaggerated or that the virus is nothing but “a hoax.” Or that age, infirmity or some other disease besides COVID is to blame.