100 Seconds of Silence to Commemorate 100,000 Dead

100,000 COVID Deaths - HR
The United States has reached the grim milestone of 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19 Getty

As the U.S. approached the startling and heartbreaking toll of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, we at Newsweek wanted to honor the dead with a moment of silence. We realized, though, that even if we marked each of the lost with only one second, the tribute would take more than a full day: 27.778 hours to be exact, or, to put it another way, one day, three hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds.

Instead, to mark this somber milestone, the Newsweek newsroom will fall silent for 100 seconds. That will give .001 seconds for each American lost to the pandemic. It's far too little. We know that each life, and each loss, is unique and irreplaceable to those left behind to mourn.

This is not a milestone that should slip by unnoticed. Much as the country does on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we want to stop for at least a brief, shared moment of reflection.

What does 100,000 deaths really mean? It's more than the number of American lives lost during the Vietnam War and the Korean War combined. It's not quite yet at the level of American lives lost during World War I: 116,516. It seems likely we will reach that awful toll—but not, thankfully, the number of U.S. deaths in World War II or the Civil War, which each numbered above 400,000.

The unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic have forced us to mark the deaths of loved ones in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways. That is its own kind of loss: of ritual, of community, even of basic forms of physical comfort like hugs.

Beyond its personal impact on hundreds of thousands of us, the coronavirus is a genuinely historic event with an extraordinary global impact. Newsweek has covered the pandemic from every angle: scientific, geopolitical, social, political, economic. We're also drawing attention to some of the Heroes of the Pandemic, individuals and communities that have found countless ways to serve, to show kindness, to sacrifice for others. Our series includes those who are making masks, helping vulnerable neighbors with grocery shopping, feeding front-line workers, caring for the children of essential workers, finding unique ways to support students—and even a fifth-grader who posts a joke-of-the-day to raise spirits as part of his role as a National Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

We will begin our 100 Seconds of Silence at noon Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, May 27th, and we invite you to join us in paying tribute. We're using the Twitter hashtag #100SecondsOfSilence, if you'd like to spread the word.