Have we normalized the COVID-19 death toll?

There’s a lot to parse here. The packages marking the 100,000 milestone were powerful journalism, and many of them reckoned with the nuances outlined above. (For instance, the Post, even prior to its analysis with Yale, noted that the true death count was likely higher; the Times acknowledged that a number “can never convey the individual arcs of life, the 100,000 ways of greeting the morning and saying good night.”) The pandemic as a whole is still a big news story, including on cable. Yesterday, for example, we heard about New York’s reopening, Trump’s imminent plan to start holding rallies again, and the World Health Organization’s warning that, on Sunday, the daily rate of new confirmed cases hit a high, suggesting that globally, the pandemic is getting worse.

Still, too often, the COVID coverage we’re now seeing feels tired, as if it’s going through the motions. That’s understandable. After years of whiplash news and months of this particular cycle, journalists are exhausted—not to mention furloughed, underpaid, unemployed, arrested, assaulted, and so on. The pandemic story has been especially demanding to cover—for logistical, scientific, and emotional reasons—and also to consume. Fatigue isn’t limited to the press; as Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal wrote for The Atlantic on Sunday, America as a whole “slowly seems to be giving up” on the battle against the pandemic. But we have to fight such feelings. The stakes are too high not to.