Flags in the time of Covid

Flag use has long played a prominent role in times of crisis, and the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. Here are some ways that flags are in the news and social media. (Please send suggestions for this list to info@portlandflag.org.)

24 April. Michigan state senator Dale Zorn is seen wearing a Confederate flag face mask, igniting widespread criticism. After initial denials, Zorn later apologized.

20 April. “United We Will Be Saved” cartoon in the Times of India.

18 April. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, wearing a mask with a state flag motif, greets a White House visitor at Peterson Air Force Base.

17 April. Vermont Governor Phil Scott announces state and national flags will fly at half staff on the 19th of each month for the rest of 2020, in memory of Vermont’s first Covid-19 fatality on 19 March.

17 April. Prince William County, Virginia follows Loudon County in lowering the county flag to half staff each Monday, in honor of Covid-19 victims and essential workers.

16 April. “Warwickshire [UK] Fire and Rescue Service will be flying an “NHS – we thank you” flag from each of its 17 stations from 8pm in tribute to our NHS staff working tirelessly to save lives during the coronavirus crisis.”

14 April. Loudoun County, Virginia announced they will lower country flags to half-staff every Monday, to honor Covid-19 victims in an effort “to humanize coronavirus statistics”.

14 April. The TV tower in Tblisi, Georgia is lit with the colors of the French flag as a gesture of solidarity in battling Covid-19. Flags of the UK, the US, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Azerbaijan have also been used in these displays.

13 April. The US flag is projected onto the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan in a show of solidarity against Covid-19. Other flags have also been displayed.

12 April. On Easter Sunday the archdiocese unveiled a new series of projections for Christ the Redeemer. A transformation of the Christ figure into a physician attracted the most attention, but others projected huge flags of countries most affected by the pandemic along with the word “hope” (see below).

3 April. Seattle Flag Makers posted: We’ve been struggling with what flag to fly lately. While politically-themed flags seem more relevant than ever, we’re craving something that’ll make us feel more connected with everyone that passes our house. We’ve noticed that heart flags have been selling as of late, and we like this sentiment. While people are practicing social distancing and are under stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of Coronavirus, this is a sign of hope. We are, after all, truly in this together. ❤️

29 March. The Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria, BC publishes a two-page Canadian heart flag for readers to display to show support for health workers, and invited readers to send in photos.

25 March. FIAV member organization Heraldica Slovenica created a flag showing a vanquished crown (the coronavirus – corona is Latin for crown) beneath a Rod of Asclepius (the symbol of health and medicine). Here it flies at Ted Kaye’s house.

25 March. The Swiss tourist town of Zermatt is projecting flags onto the Matterhorn “to give people a sign of hope and solidarity in these difficult times. The village shows solidarity with all the people who are currently suffering and is grateful to all those who are helping to overcome the crisis.”

23 March 2020. King Philippe of Belgium raised a white flag over the Royal Palace in Brussels in honor of healthcare workers. Belgians have hung white flags (or sheets, or towels) from balconies to support and acknowledge the sacrifice of these medical workers.

18 March. The Catholic Archdiocese of São Sebastião of Rio de Janeiro projected the flags of countries reporting cases of Covid-19 on to the 125 foot Christ the Redeemer statue, producing a globally circulated images. This could be read as an act opposing the Brazilian president who has notably downplayed the pandemic.

2 February. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai displays the Chinese flag and “Wuhan, stay strong”. It would subsequently lit with other nation’s flag in solidarity with their struggles with Covid-19.

27 January. Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten outraged China with a cartoon by Niels Bo Bojesen depicting their national flag with the stars replaced by coronovirus icons. Anti-Chinese propaganda and racist attacks have risen during the pandemic.

Chinese netizens angrily responded to the Bojesen cartoon by circulating insulting versions of the Danish flag, like this one referring to the quick surrender of Denmark to the Nazis in WW2, on social media.

24 January. Workers at Union Hospital in Wuhan pose with a flag for their Covid-19 “assault team”. In following weeks and months many similar photos are posted of medical teams from around the world posing with flags.

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