When readers across the country pick up a copy of the New York Times on Sunday, they will be confronted with an extraordinarily grim sight.
They will see the names and a peek into the lives of the people who died in the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The nearly one thousand obituaries, which fill the entire front page, represent only an estimated 1% of the death toll.
As of Saturday, more than 97,000 people in the U.S. had died from complications with COVID-19.
The victims’ stories were pulled from obituaries published in newspapers across the country.
Simone Landon, the Times’ graphics desk assistant editor, came up with the idea to honor the victims in a way that would allow readers to see the gravity of the pandemic’s impact in the country, according to the paper.
Landon told the Times that there was “a little bit of a fatigue with the data” on deaths in the U.S., which is being tracked daily by Johns Hopkins University and followed closely by the media.
“We knew we were approaching this milestone,” Landon told the Times. “We knew that there should be some way to try to reckon with that number.”
The shortened obituaries are displayed one after the other and fill six tall columns that stretch across a majority of the Times’ front page.
In a preview of the paper published Saturday, viewers can zoom in on each name to read about the victims’ lives:
“Lila Fenwick, 87, New York City, first black woman to graduate from Harvard Law School.”
“Mike Field, 59, Valley Stream, N.Y., first responder during the 9/11 attacks.”
“Jessica Beatriz Cortez, 32, Los Angeles, immigrated to the United States three years ago.”
With the obituaries, the Times reminds readers who these people are.
“They were not simply names on a list. They were us.”