On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As of March 23, 2020, there have been over 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, resulting in over 15,000 deaths. Truly global in its scope, the virus – which can cause pneumonia-like symptoms and death in the most serious cases – has been found in over 170 countries in every continent except Antarctica.
In the wake of the pandemic, social interactions and community life around the world have been altered in ways that are unprecedented in recent history. Schools have been closed in over 120 countries, affecting more than one billion children. Border crossings have been closed or severely restricted by travel bans. Restaurants, sporting events and spaces for civic engagement have been shuttered across the globe. As physical distancing quickly becomes the new normal, many communities are struggling to find appropriate and balanced ways to approach an array of topics, including self-care, social welfare, mental and physical health, and economic concerns, among many others.
As members of a global network of more than 275 historic sites, museums and memory initiatives in 65 countries, Sites of Conscience can support their communities in this time of crisis by facilitating constructive conversation on COVID-19 in our world. Our COVID-19 Digital Front Page Dialogue is one model for doing just that. We encourage you to engage staff and visitors through it virtually, adapting and grounding it in the unique history that your organization works to preserve and share.