With coronavirus deaths rising in the U.S., obituaries have begun to fill more and more pages in newspapers. Sunday's edition of The Boston Globe featured 15 pages of obituaries for the dead, shocking many readers. A photo of the section made the rounds on social media as well, serving as a sobering sign of how dire the pandemic has gotten.
The Boston Globe published 15 pages of obituaries on Sunday, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Each one included a photo of the deceased or a small symbol, as well as a short column on their life and their family. The spread included faces of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. A reader named Nancy Palmer shared a picture of the paper on Twitter, and it quickly went viral.
15 pages of obituaries in The Boston Globe today. pic.twitter.com/DdcWiy2hvx— Nancy Palmer (@npalmerrothman) April 19, 2020
The image was jarring to people in the U.S. — even people who are familiar with the loss of life the coronavirus has caused. Some remarked on how the newspaper pages were more affecting than any data or anecdote they had seen online, since it was tangible and over-sized.
At the time of this writing, Massachusetts has had 34,402 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 156 in Boston's Suffolk County. Over 5,400 Massachusetts residents have recovered from the virus, but 1,404 have passed away. According to The Globe, Boston-area scientists conducted an eye-opening study this week on the prevalence of the virus and the the possibility of repeat cases.
Researchers took blood from 200 random Bostonians in Bellingham Square on Tuesday and Wednesday, testing them for antibodies made to fight off the coronavirus. They found that nearly a third of the people sample had the antibodies, meaning they either had COVID-19 or had recovered from it without ever realizing it. Those people were all at an extreme risk of spreading the virus just by being out in public spaces.
"I think it's both good news and bad news," said the study's principal investigator, Dr. John Lafrate. "The bad news is that there's a raging epidemic in Chelsea, and many people walking on the street don't know that they're carrying the virus and that they may be exposing uninfected individuals in their families. On the good news side, it suggests that Chelsea has made its way through a good part of the epidemic. They're probably further along than other towns."
Still, scientists are not sure how much immunity people get from recovering COVID-19, nor how long it may last. Last week, epidemiologist Marc Lipstitch wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, detailing just how little data is available on the subject. It seems unlikely that recovered patients retain immunity from COVID-19 for more than a year at most, so the worldwide distribution of a vaccine is the only measure that will allow life to go back to normal. For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.