With each passing day, with each horrific new milestone met in the COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder about how future generations will learn about this era in history. I think back to my education on the Spanish Flu and, outside of the monumental number of people who died from it and when it happened, I can't recall another fact about it from my various history classes as it was usually enveloped within the greater lesson plan on World War I.
The one aspect of the Flu that remains imprinted in my mind is the images that came out of it. I remember the rows and rows of people in hospital beds, nurses dressed in white holding the hands of those about to pass, a small child crying next to what looks like their dying mother. It's heartbreaking, and our current catastrophe has produced no shortage of era-defining images as well, from mass graves to body bags stored in cold storage trucks to the abrasions doctors and nurses are left with from sweating into their PPE for hours on end.
All of those images are harrowing, but for weeks now, the defining pictures of what COVID looks like to me have been the many taken by photographers showcasing empty streets, deserted amusement parks, and wildlife roaming through rural towns without bother. There are many wonderful photo essays you can find online highlighting the quieting effect this virus has had. Every time I would bypass a paywall to see the empty squares of Milan, another image would pop into my brain. One of a young boy looking for a friend in Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon.