Yesterday marked 100,000 dead from the coronavirus.
To date, that’s more than were lost on 9/11, and in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
As the country hits this grim milestone, we wanted to thank the women and men on the front lines and answer:
Who Were They?
- They were people of color: Latinos and Asians have nearly twice the death rate of non-Hispanic whites. African-Americans have nearly three times the death rate. And the Navajo Nation—an American Indian territory occupying portions of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico—is the third most infected coronavirus hotspot in the U.S., after New York and New Jersey.
- They were health care workers, janitors and cleaners: More than 60,000 health care workers have been infected and close to 300 have died from COVID-19, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- They lived or worked in nursing homes: Almost half of the deaths in some states have been nursing home residents or workers.
- They were the working poor, our so-called “essential workers,” despite their lack of adequate safety gear, access to health care or paid medical leave, decent pay or a strong voice at work to ensure fair treatment and compliance with existing standards: Fifty-nine members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union have died. At least 64 meat plant workers have died from the virus nationwide and 16,600 have become infected.
- They lived or worked behind bars: COVID-19 has spread at alarming rates both inmates and prison staff, including in juvenile detention centers.
- They are immigrants (documented and undocumented) and refugees, groups that typically lack access to adequate health care. Many immigration officials going in and out of detention facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, making outbreak inevitable.
- Some died alone—with mandated social distancing keeping many from being there for their loved ones, goodbyes said through an iPad.
MAYDAY! What Can We Do?
Not just today but throughout this pandemic, many Americans are grieving. They feel confused. Enraged. Scared.
With her project “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!,” artist Susan Silton offers something productive to do with this grief—”to register not just our outraged voices, but the voices of those who are no longer able to speak.”
MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! is a simple but forceful call to action: Write the name of someone in the United States who has died from COVID-19 and send it in a stamped envelope to President Donald Trump. This action honors those who have fallen victim to the disease, supports the essential role of our threatened U.S. Postal Service, and delivers bodies, in the form of written names, to where they belong—at the door of The White House.
How to Participate
- On a piece of paper, write the name of someone in the United States who has died as a result of COVID-19. It can be a loved one, a friend or family member, or someone you’ve read or heard about. (You can find names and profiles of individuals who have lost their lives in many publications including The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, among others. One thousand names of individuals were published in The New York Times on May 24, 2020. You can access some of those here.)
- Place the written name in an envelope and write MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY! on the outside, OR download and print out the logo provided HERE, and affix one of them to the outside of the envelope.
- Stamp your envelope (or purchase stamps from the USPS website), and mail to: Donald Trump, President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
- On this MAYDAY! form, please REGISTER your name, the name of the individual you’ve chosen to honor and the date you mailed your envelope. Optional comments about the individual are welcomed and will be incorporated into the Memorial.
- MAILING IS ENCOURAGED. It helps the U.S. Postal Service in a time of need. But you may instead tweet a name to: President Donald Trump @WhiteHouse, and mention @MaydayMail2020, or the project website (www.maydaymaydaymaydayproject.com). But please remember to register here to be counted!
- Please upload images of your envelope(s) before mailing to #MaydayMail2020.