Día de los Muertos has been especially sobering this year as at least 36,500 Latine people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, which amounts to one in five COVID-19 deaths being a Latine person. Latin American countries are seeing gigantic death tolls from the virus. Ecuador and Mexico currently rank in the top 10 of the highest coronavirus death rate. Both countries have more deaths from the virus than the United States. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared three days of national mourning during Día de los Muertos celebrations.
Día de los Muertos, known in English as Day of the Dead, is observed as a moment when the veil between the physical and spiritual world thins, allowing us to communicate with our lost loved ones as their souls return to Earth. Across the country, ofrenda altars were displayed to honor those whose lives have been claimed during the deadly pandemic.
In Los Angeles, California there have been over 6,600 deaths from coronavirus. A Día de los Muertos altar was placed at the Pacoima City Hall building. The ofrenda displays photos of those who died from coronavirus adorned with traditional Méxican Día de los Muertos symbolic decorations such as skeletons, papel picado, pan de muertos, and orange marigolds. Candles and incense are burned to guide souls on their journey back to the living world. The shrine will remain on display through November 15th. Usually, in Los Angeles, there are traditional festivities on Olvera Street such as processions and musical performances but they were canceled this year to protect community health. Instead, a memorial was erected in the plaza.
Latine families in Phoenix, Arizona also observed Día de los Muertos a bit differently this year. The Tres Leches Café has a community altar and sells homemade pan de muertos. “We know a lot of our community have lost a loved one due to Covid,” co-owner Magaly Saenz told CNN. “We want to be able to build an ofrenda large enough so that everyone can come and honor their loved ones and maintain their memory.”