When the 117th Congress was sworn in on Jan. 3, America had lost 352,000 souls to COVID-19; by Wednesday, when President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the country will have lost more than 400,000.
The higher the death toll, the harder it is to fathom. Nearly one out of every 750 Americans has now died, an entire city’s worth of grief and pain.
We are among the few people privileged to know the living, breathing, beautiful value of such numbers. We were once the mayors of Anaheim, Calif., (population 350,000) and Minneapolis (population 429,000); to us, the unfathomable looks a lot like home, like the histories and dreams, the entire worlds, that are nurtured and built across a city’s grid.
Imagine a bird’s eye view: Block after block, but the houses are empty, the streets and schools quiet. Think about Anaheim’s Disneyland, the excited chatter of visiting families silenced; or Minneapolis’ First Avenue club, the music-loving crowds gone.