I have seen the sentiment expressed multiple times online that the weeks we have lived in 2020 feel like years as the serious events of the year, including the pandemic, innumerable political events, and the death of George Floyd with the resulting worldwide protests, pile up on us. We barely have time to process major news related to any particular event when another hits and it’s all we can do to hang on for the ride. Considering all we’ve had to deal with, it’s a wonder any of us gets out of bed in the morning. But, we do! And we’re figuring out how to not only cope but, in the political realm, fight back against the Trump regime and tackle systemic racism and police violence in creative ways.
It remains to be seen how all will turn out, but watching the outpouring of solidarity and support for protestors and burned and vandalized buildings in the Twin Cities metro gives me hope that we’ll make some progress … though it will be tough going and a long slog, as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and individuals are teaching those of us who have been too comfortable floating through society with very few barriers.
With large groups of people gathering for protests around the world during a pandemic, it is likely that within a few weeks we will see a surge in cases of COVID-19. Though many protesters have been careful to wear masks, the close quarters of crowds make this inevitable. Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health are urging protesters to get testing in Minnesota.
A few weeks ago, which seems like years ago, I wrote a post sparked by a Twitter feed on how we have not had collective mourning for the victims of COVID-19. For rural areas that haven’t seen a lot of cases, the pandemic can seem unreal due to a lack of mourning on the national level and the likelihood that people don’t know someone personally who has dealt with or died from the disease.
After doing some thinking on the matter and chatting with museum colleague David Grabitske, we hatched an idea to create a symbol that people could display on windows or doors to help make the victims of the disease more visible. Our inspiration was the gold stars displayed for service members who’ve died in the line of duty.
You can find the symbols at the link below. They are free to download, use and share.
The C-19 symbol comes in 4 colors:
- Yellow – for someone within a household who has died of COVID-19
- Blue – for someone within a household who has survived COVID-19
- Orange – for a relative or friend outside of a household who has died of COVID-19 (think about all the families who have lost a loved one who was living in a nursing home)
- Green – for a relative or friend outside of a household who has survived COVID-19 (perhaps you have a child attending college who lives away from home, or one who serves in the military)
These symbols are meant to show the collective grief people are feeling over the loss of loved ones, but also to show how many people have been affected by the disease.
They have been created on behalf of the local history community because the history of this pandemic is to be found on the local level and local history organizations will be holding this history for future researchers.
Local history organizations and other organizations such as churches, social services, and the arts (seriously, anyone) are welcome to download the C-19 symbols document and upload it to their own websites. The document has a Creative Commons license that allows it to be shared.
I first posted this to the Morrison County Historical Society’s website (where I work) as the protests were heating up and didn’t have time to share it here or as widely as I could.
Please use and share the C-19 symbols freely. If you don’t have a color printer, we’ve got you covered. There is a black-and-white version of the symbol in the document that can be printed and colored as needed. You can also create your own C-19 symbols.
In Minnesota, Governor Walz has ordered that the state and U.S. flags shall be flown at half-staff on the 19th of every month for the rest of 2020 as a sign of mourning for those who have died of COVID-19. Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior was lit in April as a sign of hope during the pandemic. Are you aware of other community events and activities related to the pandemic, particularly those related to mourning? If so, please share in the comments.