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This Twitter Account Is Honoring COVID Victims, With 5,000 Obituaries And Counting

The Twitter account @FacesofCOVID, says creator Alex Goldstein, helps people mourn. And as long as COVID-19 persists, he plans on running the account.
The Twitter account @FacesofCOVID, says creator Alex Goldstein, helps people mourn. And as long as COVID-19 persists, he plans on running the account.

Alex Goldstein started the Twitter account @FacesofCOVID in March of 2020 to help him make sense of grief.

The account has been his way to honor some of the nearly 600,000 people who have died in the U.S.

Even back in March 2020, Goldstein knew something was wrong. The communications specialist's home city of Boston was hit early and harshly from virus. As the death toll climbed and businesses shut down, he started to feel overwhelmed. How could a virus kill so many and yet he knew so few of its victims? Who were the people who had passed away from COVID, and what were their stories?

He created FacesofCOVID to learn those answers. He has posted over 5,000 virtual obituaries from newspapers and families of those who have died.

"I think that the story at the beginning of the pandemic was largely a data story. We were getting thrown all these numbers thrown at us — hospitalizations and cases and deaths," Goldstein tells Morning Edition. "I found it really hard to process and I felt like, we were missing the human element of that story."

One of the things that made this pandemic especially difficult was the lack of mourning rituals. Families saw their loved ones one last time from iPads in isolation wards. Many funeral homes did not let more than 10 mourners at a time attend a service due to regulations. In a time of immense grief, people couldn't mourn in familiar ways.

"It's a place where they can share their loved one's story and see people from all over the country and all over the world saying, 'Your loved one meant something, and even if I didn't know them, we are all less because they're not here anymore, and we all share in your sadness,' " Goldstein says.

As long as COVID-19 continues to exist and take lives, Goldstein plans on running the account.

"I don't want us to immediately lose sight just because things are reopening," he says. "There's a lot of pain out there, and if FacesofCOVID can help people slow down a little bit on their impulse to change the channel, I think that can be a good thing."

Tori Dominguez is an intern at Morning Edition.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.