Sunday’s Heart-Wrenching New York Times Cover Marks Almost 100,000 Coronavirus Deaths in the US

A new digital presentation is staggering in its own right.

The New York Times

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The New York Times Sunday front page was given over entirely to a list of names of COVID-19 victims, stretching to two inside pages of the paper—a grim tribute to the nearly 100,000 Americans who have perished in the months leading up to this Memorial Day weekend. The cover, which eschews graphics and photos for endless type, includes names, ages, towns, and a singular snippet about the life lost, curated by the Times staff from obituaries that ran around the country.

An equally staggering digital version arranges the names in chronological order; names pop up as you scroll further and further—a feat of online presentation that highlights touching personal details amid the immensity of the pandemic. 

The lines from the obituaries produce an almost endless stream of epitaphs dedicated to a diverse array of victims, young and old, from far-flung parts of the country. The lives honored here are both extraordinary by broad standards, and extraordinary to their loved ones:

“Last living woman member of the W.W. II Monuments teams.”

“Loved Jesus, Elvis, Dr. Pepper and her family.”

“Enjoyed trying her luck in casinos.”

“One half of Siegfried & Roy.”

“Go-to person for everybody.”

“Died after being released from ICE detention.”

Times researchers created a list of more than 1,000 obituaries of COVID-19 victims and then a team of editors and graduate student journalists combed through looking for particularly resonant brief descriptions. In a behind-the-scenes piece describing how the project came together, Times staff said that it was the first time in anyone’s memory—at least 40 years—that the front page dropped graphics and photos for a text-only treatment. But, one editor said, the goal was to create something that would stand out over time: “I wanted something that people would look back on in 100 years to understand the toll of what we’re living through.”

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate