Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

Pick a SPECIFIC date to explore

-May 2: A research team at the Yale School of Public Health finds that the U.S. had an estimated 37,100 excess deaths through March and the first two weeks of April. Officially, 13,500 deaths from that period are attributed to COVID-19. The obvious conclusion is that the COVID death toll is much higher than reported. Employees at stores in Stillwater, Oklahoma report verbal abuse and threats of physical abuse when they attempt to enforce mask mandates.  Americans flock to beaches and parks over the weekend, against the advice of public health experts concerned about the spreading of the coronavirus. Murder Hornets.

-May 3: Insurgents, including several Americans, attempt to infiltrate Venezuela and start an armed uprising but are quickly captured. At a virtual town hall with Fox News at the Lincoln Memorial, Trump says he is “very confident” we will have a vaccine by the end of 2020.

-May 4: Several Trump administration agencies forecast that the daily U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 coronavirus will rise to 3,000 by June 1. Venezuela announces it has captured 2 U.S. mercenaries in their failed coup. The Supreme Court hears arguments by teleconference.

-May 5: Video showing Ahmaud Arbery’s killing is leaked. Dr. Rick Bright files a whistleblower complaint, alleging “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement” by the Department of Health and Human Services and other senior administration officials. Trump announces the winding down of the Coronavirus Task Force. Georgia prosecutor Tom Durden announces that he will ask a grand jury to consider criminal charges in the Feb. 23 killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black jogger who was shot after being stopped by two white men on a suburban street in Glynn County. *

From the cutting room floor...

As I do my all-too-regular doomscrolling before bed, I see that the director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Rick Bright, has filed a wrongful termination suit after getting fired from HHS. Bright says that he pushed HHS to stockpile more N95 masks in advance of the coming pandemic and resisted pressure from his superiors at HHS to acquire unapproved chloroquine-based anti-malarial drugs from Bayer factories in India and Pakistan and move them into New York and New Jersey warehouses on taxpayer dollars.[1] He also says that his boss, Robert Kadlec, gave extremely favorable treatment to the company, Emergent Biosolutions, where Kadlec used to consult. He alleges that hundreds of millions of public funds went from Kadlec through a middleman to Emergent Biosolutions. If these allegations are true, it’s blatant grift—precisely the “swamp” that the Trump of 2016 promised to drain.

What lessons can we draw out of today’s chaos? Is it that being white in America means that you can run an undercover sting operation on women cutting hair in their own homes, get famous for standing defiantly in front of a judge and telling him you won’t recognize his “law and order,” get on a fishing boat and attempt to invade Venezuela, push ineffective drugs onto the largest city in the country, and even—provided he is Black and you have the right connections—kill a man in broad daylight and drive your pickup away free… always free in this land of freedom on a Tuesday in 2020?



[1] Rick Bright, “U.S. Office of Special Counsel Complaint & Disclosure Form,” May 5, 2020; Yasmeen Abutaleb and Laurie McGinley, “Ousted Vaccine Official Alleges He Was Demoted for Prioritizing ‘Science and Safety,’” Washington Post, May 5, 2020,

CNN. Woman Jailed for Defying Lockdown. CNN, 2020.
Browne, Malachy. Retracing Ahmaud Arbery’s Final Minutes: What Videos And 911 Calls Show. The New York Times, 2020.

Travis Riddle, New Brunswick, Georgia “Run with ‘Maud” protest, Facebook live (May 5, 2020).


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Rodriguez, César, “Laredo Pair Allegedly Violated Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Order with Beauty Businesses.” Laredo Morning Times, April 20, 2020.
TMZ. “Video Shows Fatal Shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, Unarmed Black Man in Georgia.” TMZ, May 5, 2020.
Bright, Rick. “U . S. Office of Special Counsel Complaint & Disclosure Form,” May 5, 2020.
The Economist. “The Pandemic Has Sent Public Debt Rocketing across the World.” The Economist, May 5, 2020.
Dorp, Lucy van, Mislav Acman, Damien Richard, Liam P. Shaw, Charlotte E. Ford, Louise Ormond, Christopher J. Owen, et al. “Emergence of Genomic Diversity and Recurrent Mutations in SARS-CoV-2.” Infection, Genetics and Evolution, May 5, 2020.
“This is Ahmaud Arbery,” Grassroots Law Project (2020),
Social Media
Additional Links
  • Klompas, Michael. “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Protecting Hospitals From the Invisible.” Annals of Internal Medicine 172, no. 9 (May 5, 2020): 619–20.
  • Liu, Jialin, and Siru Liu. “The Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Journal of Medical Virology 92, no. 9 (May 5, 2020): 1484–90.

* Timeline summaries at the top of the page come from a variety of sources:, including The American Journal of Managed Care COVID-19 Timeline (, the Just Security Group at the NYU School of Law (, the “10 Things,” daily entries from The Week (, as well as a variety of newspapers and television programs.