Perhaps one reason we write things down is because it is impossible to remember all we would like to hold. 

In mid-March 2020, James Boorstein started writing daily essays about what he saw, heard, and felt on the changed streets of Manhattan. The focus was on sharing experiences rather than on reporting news. The unfolding collection of short essays, images, and audio recording became The Covid Entries which were shared with several dozen readers providing a glimpse into the feeling of the deep quiet of a city that seems to need noise to be itself. 

The entries, created on 52 consecutive days, track what turned out to be the peak of the pandemic’s grasp on New York City; the collection provides a sharp reminder of how little we knew about what lay ahead. New signs in store windows, such as a canary yellow note on receipt paper taped to the inside of a dry cleaning shop: “Will be back in 2 weeks sorry for the inconvenience.” By mid-April 2020, the daily death toll from Covid-19 in the United States was 1,500. Two-thirds of those deaths were in New York City.    

In the spring of 2023 the Covid Entries will be rereleased, to a wider audience, beginning on March 13. The Covid Entries track empty streets, mobile morgues, lines outside of grocery stores, the disappearance of eye contact and the handshake — in many ways the arrival of a new way of existing A look back to the early days of Covid’s grasp is sobering, compelling, and revealing. The city became what Samuel Beckett called a “dispeopled kingdom.”

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