Press Release: Dionne Warwick to Host First National Remembrance of the 200,000 Americans lost to COVID-19

Date: September 23, 2020
Contact: Zoe PiSierra, [email protected], 603.339.0042

Dionne Warwick to Host First National Remembrance of the 200,000 Americans lost to COVID-19


 Grammy Award-Winning Singer and Former U.S. Ambassador for Health Will Join With Advocates, Artists, and Americans Hurt by COVID-19 To Call for Action That Honors The Sacrifice of COVID-19 Victims and Frontline Workers


20,000 Empty Chairs To Be Placed on The National Mall To Represent Those Lost

Washington, D.C. — Dionne Warwick, Grammy award-winning singer and Former U.S. Ambassador for Health, will host the first National COVID-19 Remembrance, to be held October 4 in Washington, D.C. She will be joined both virtually and in person by faith leaders, health care professionals, frontline workers, and Americans who have lost someone they love to COVID-19.

Six months into this pandemic, America has not yet had a collective moment to grieve and remember the 200,000+ parents, spouses, and children we have lost. This program, which will be streamed virtually to ensure audience and performer safety, will be the first time the nation will mourn together and honor the frontline workers who are risking so much, and receiving so little. Participants in the first National COVID-19 Remembrance will honor that sacrifice by calling for a national plan for recovery.

Twenty-thousand empty chairs will be placed on the National Mall to represent a fraction of the over 200,000 lives lost due to COVID-19. With no end in sight, organizers are calling for action.

Warwick, known for her international public health activism, will serve as the program’s master of ceremonies. One of the first artists to use their platform to raise public awareness of the AIDS epidemic, Warwick went on to serve as a global health ambassador during the administrations of President Ronald Regan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

“There will be 20,000 empty chairs on the Ellipse on October 4. These chairs will be a visually stunning art installation representing a fraction of the heartbreaking and unimaginable loss of 200,000 lives to COVID-19 in six just months,” Warwick said. “It’s time to stand with all the survivors and Americans who have been devastatingly impacted. It’s time to thank the essential workers and treat this pandemic as it is: an incredible tragedy. And most of all, it’s time to pray for those still suffering and for our Nation to unite and come together to mourn and honor the precious lives lost.”

 A collaborative effort led by Covid Survivors for Change, a new non-partisan, grassroots organization connecting survivors to support and resources, the National COVID-19 Remembrance will amplify voices from communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, offer public space to hear the stories of COVID-19 survivors and essential workers in their own words, and provide calls to action on elected officials. Elements include:


  • A call for a National Moment of Silence on Sunday, October 4th at Noon ET
  • A call for community Faith leaders to remember victims and families of COVID-19 with a moment of silence in their services
  • Live and recorded tributes featuring musical performances by major artists and speakers
  • Art on the Mall representing the enormous human devastation of COVID-19
  • Memorial tributes where loved ones will be honored virtually and during the program on October 4

Special guests and speakers will continue to be announced, featuring a lineup of survivors, essential workers, community leaders, public celebrities, and more. The service will be streamed online and made available to national media. It will be a safe and socially-distanced event held at The Ellipse in Washington, D.C.

“As we cross the devastating milestone of 200,000 deaths, we must acknowledge the depth of this tragedy– we’re mourning the losses of our closest family members and friends, our jobs, our livelihoods, our security, and the unity of this country, all at once,” said Sabila Khan of New Jersey. After losing her father to COVID-19, Sabila created a Facebook bereavement group for families and friends dealing with the loss of loved ones to the virus.

“It didn’t have to be this way.”” said Maria del Rosario Palacio of Gainesville, GA. A COVID survivor along with her mother, del Rosario Palacio organized Gainesville Familias Unidas and multiple fundraisers to collect masks and gloves for her local community. She also advocates for her fellow poultry plant workers at high risk to COVID. “We have lost our loved ones, our businesses and our livelihoods. Our communities are suffering.”

“Essential workers are the ones on the frontlines daily, often with little to no protection,” said Dr. Dara Kass, an emergency room doctor in New York City who witnesses the horrors of the pandemic firsthand daily. “With no national plan, limited information, and few answers, our workers and our country remain at the greatest risk. We need help and we need it now.”

The United States now accounts for more than 20 percent of the 958,000 total COVID deaths worldwide, though the country only comprises 4.25 percent of the global population. As the nation’s COVID death surges pass 200,000 dead, the National COVID-19 Remembrance will serve as a call for community, unity, and the resilience required to see our country through to the other side of this pandemic.


About the National COVID-19 Remembrance

The National COVID-19 Remembrance is an effort to honor those lost to COVID-19, to thank frontline and essential workers, and to demand that elected officials do more to develop a national plan for safety and recovery. It is led by Covid Survivors for Change, a national community of families of COVID victims and survivors who are working together to support each other, share their stories so that others can better understand the devastating impacts of the pandemic, and advocate for a stronger national pandemic response that will help save more lives. The National COVID-19 Remembrance is endorsed by The Lincoln Project, Equality Forum, Faces of COVID, NAACP, TheFridayMinute, COVID Memorial, Marked by COVID, Covid-19 Loss Support for Family & Friends, Pandemic of Love, The Human Rights Campaign, Survivor Corps, Covid 19 Support Group, Coronavirus Survivor Corps, Covid 19 Long Haulers Discussion Group, and Tribute to Humanity.