North Austin man plants flags as Texan COVID-19 deaths rise above 30K

More than 30,000 Texans have died from COVID-19.

He documented this number for Shane Reilly in his front yard in North Austin. Reilly is an artist and has been planting flags in his garden for every death in Texas due to COVID-19 since May.

When he lived near a hiking trail, he said when the town first closed he still saw people walking by in large groups and with those outside of their household. Reilly said he wanted to show people that this virus is real and can have devastating effects.

RELATED: Austin-based artist plants over 15,000 flags in his garden for the death of the Texan COVID-19

The Austin artist plants over 15,000 flags in his garden for the death of the Texan COVID-19

North Austin artist Shane Reilly started this exhibit in May when the Texas virus death toll was close to 1,000. Now he has reached an unfortunate milestone.

“I thought we should put up a picture to show how many people died,” said Reilly. “It’s a real thing, and each of these flags represents a person.”

Even with a COVID-19 vaccine, the US has exceeded 2 million deaths. According to the Texas Department of Health, Texas is treating an average of more than 18,000 new cases every day, and intensive care units across Texas cannot stand the surge much more. Here in Travis County, an alternative care facility has been activated at the Austin Convention Center to accommodate patients as the number continues to rise.

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“With over 32,000 people in particular, everyone knows someone who is affected,” said Reilly. Since launching in May, Reilly has said his yard has become a memorial. “That has become cathartic for people.”

While he said he didn’t think this idea would have taken this long, he said that the impact on people is most important and is what keeps him going.

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The North Austin man plants a flag in his garden for every Texan life lost to COVID-19

He says it started by showing his neighbors that real Texans are dying from this virus and they should take steps to slow the spread.

“Each of these family members reached out to me,” said Reilly. “I get unsigned letters in my mailbox saying thank you, or that’s my mother in this garden. I’m just a caretaker for it now.”

RELATED: Over 15,000 Flags in Austin Yard for Every Texan Life Lost to COVID-19

He said he would like to see something on a larger scale, not just in his front yard.

Over 15,000 flags in Austin Yard for every Texan life lost to COVID-19

Texas recorded 15,229 deaths from COVID-19 on September 23, as the United States recorded 201,000 deaths in total.

“I would love if there was a more permanent memorial not just for Texas,” he said. “But for the whole of the USA”

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