COVID-19 Deaths Near 500,000 In The U.S.; Artists Discuss Future Memorials : Consider This from NPR The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is on track to pass a number next week that once seemed unthinkable: Half a million people in this country dead from the coronavirus.

And while the pandemic isn't over yet, and the death toll keeps climbing, artists in every medium have already been thinking about how our country will pay tribute to those we lost.

Poets, muralists, and architects all have visions of what a COVID-19 memorial could be. Many of these ideas are about more than just honoring those we've lost to the pandemic. Artists are also thinking about the conditions in society that brought us here.

Tracy K. Smith, a former U.S. poet laureate, has already written one poem honoring transit workers in New York who died of the disease. Smith says she wants to see a COVID-19 memorial that has a broader mission, that it needs to invite people in to bridge a divide.

Paul Farber runs Monument Lab, an organization that works with cities and states that want to build new monuments. He says he wants to see a COVID-19 monument that is collective experience and evolves over time. He also wants it to serve as a bridge to understanding.

In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what's going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.
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Memorializing The Deaths Of More Than 500,000 Americans Lost To COVID-19

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Memorializing The Deaths Of More Than 500,000 Americans Lost To COVID-19

Memorializing The Deaths Of More Than 500,000 Americans Lost To COVID-19

Memorializing The Deaths Of More Than 500,000 Americans Lost To COVID-19

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Chris Duncan, whose 75-year-old mother Constance died from COVID-19 on her birthday, photographs a COVID-19 Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall as the United States crosses the 200,000 lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic on Sept. 22, 2020 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. will likely cross the mark of half a million lives lost to COVID-19 in the coming days. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

Chris Duncan, whose 75-year-old mother Constance died from COVID-19 on her birthday, photographs a COVID-19 Memorial Project installation of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall as the United States crosses the 200,000 lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic on Sept. 22, 2020 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. will likely cross the mark of half a million lives lost to COVID-19 in the coming days.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is on track to pass a number next week that once seemed unthinkable: Half a million people in this country dead from the coronavirus.

And while the pandemic isn't over yet, and the death toll keeps climbing, artists in every medium have already been thinking about how our country will pay tribute to those we lost.

Poets, muralists, and architects all have visions of what a COVID-19 memorial could be. Many of these ideas are about more than just honoring those we've lost to the pandemic. Artists are also thinking about the conditions in society that brought us here.

Tracy K. Smith, a former U.S. poet laureate, has already written one poem honoring transit workers in New York who died of the disease. Smith says she wants to see a COVID-19 memorial that has a broader mission and invites people to bridge a divide.

Paul Farber runs Monument Lab, an organization that works with cities and states that want to build new monuments. He says he wants to see a COVID-19 monument that is collective experience and evolves over time. He also wants it to serve as a bridge to understanding.

Farber's list describes one of the most powerful memorials in recent American history: the AIDS quilt. Mike Smith, co-founder of that memorial, says that one focus of the AIDS quilt project that he would like to see in a COVID-19 memorial is inspiring communities to come together and not to isolate in processing and remembering those who died.

In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what's going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Lee Hale, Noah Caldwell and Jonaki Mehta. It was edited by Sami Yenigun with help from Sarah Handel, Courtney Dorning and Wynne Davis. Our executive producer is Cara Tallo.