As the total confirmed COVID-19 cases approach one million this week, including over 55,000 deaths — the vast majority of these concentrated in American east coast cities, especially in the tri-state area — newspaper obituaries in the same cities are expanding to unheard of numbers of pages.
As a stunning case in point, The Boston Globe on Sunday included an unprecedented 21 total pages of death notices due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The newspaper said its archives showed on the same day last year, the obit section was at its usual seven pages.
Furthermore, this was a seven page jump up from its already high 16 pages the week before. The newspaper described that it even ran out of room and had to borrow space and alter its Sports section in a "devastating" sign of the pandemic's toll in the city.
The Globe wrote of the unusual and grim situation:
Those seeking out the death notices might have noticed that they started on B-13 and B-14, with the Sports section interrupting until the notices picked back up on pages C-12 through C-31. The reason for that is as simple as it is devastating: The Globe ran out of room.
The Globe includes death notice submissions for a fee from families and funeral homes across multiple states, especially on the east coast.
It's part of a broader grim trend that local newspapers have witnessed across the country. In Europe too, particularly as cases earlier spiked in Italy, newspapers became dominated by the death notices section.
Massachusetts itself reported 169 news COVID-19 deaths Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 2,899.
However, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday morning announced he'll weigh lifting the stay-at-home advisory set to expire May 4. There are over 91,000 in the New England region.
The governor was optimistic, saying "We've flattened the curve" in a press conference. He added: "It seems to have plateaued depending on the part of Massachusetts. Our hope and expectation is it will start to fall. It will probably fall slowly the same way it increased."