AUSTIN, Texas - More than 30,000 Texans have lost their lives to COVID-19.
Living near a walking trail, he said when the city was first shut down, he still saw people coming by in large groups and with those outside their household. Reilly said he wanted to show people that this virus is real and can have a devastating impact.
"I thought we should put a visual up just to show this is how many people have died, Reilly said. "This is a real thing, and each one of these flags represent a person."
Even with a COVID-19 vaccine, globally there have been 2 million deaths. In the U.S. we've nearly surpassed 400,000. Texas is averaging more than 18,000 new cases daily, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, and ICUs across Texas cannot take much more of the surge. Here in Travis County, an alternative care site has been activated at the Austin Convention Center to house patients as numbers continue to spike.
"Especially with over 32 thousand people, everybody knows somebody that has been affected," said Reilly. Since starting in May, Reilly said that his yard has become a memorial. "This has become cathartic for people."
While he said he didn't think this idea would have lasted this long, he said the impact it has on people is what matters most, and what keeps him going.
"Each one of these family members have reached out to me," Reilly said. "I get unsigned letters dropped in my mailbox saying thank you, or that's my mom in that yard. I'm just a caretaker for this now."
He said he would like to see something at a larger scale, not just in his front yard.
"I would love there to be a more permanent memorial not just for Texas," he said. "But for the whole U.S."