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For better or worse, the pandemic seems slated to fade from our collective memory | Ross Barkan

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9/11’s death toll was a fraction of Covid’s, but there will probably be no comparable memorial for the over 40,000 New Yorkers killed by the virus

What will we remember of the plague years? It’s easy to project on to the future what we feel now, the memories of the suffering so visceral, the evidence of the reckoning clear enough. People still get sick and die from Covid. Signage lingers, warning of the defunct 6ft social distancing rule or the importance of hand-washing. Certain American cities and colleges maintain mandates for the Covid vaccine.

More than a million Americans are dead, and their deaths, in the public imagination, were not created equal. In 2020, Covid deaths were a terror, and 100,000 of them were worthy of bellowing headlines on the front page of the New York Times. And then the body counts, for those not experiencing them directly, became more ordinary, the carnage a backdrop to another year.

Ross Barkan is a writer based in New York

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