Press Release: First National COVID-19 Remembrance Calls the Country to Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 15, 2020
Contact: Zoe PiSierra, [email protected], 603.339.0042

First National COVID-19 Remembrance Calls the Country to Action

Day of Remembrance planned for October 4, 2020 in Washington, DC

Will unite Americans to honor the dead, call on leaders to do more

Washington, D.C.As the nation grows close to 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19, organizers today announced a National COVID-19 Remembrance that will be held in Washington, DC on October 4 to reflect on the impacts of COVID-19, honor essential and frontline workers, acknowledge the country’s collective loss, and call for a national plan for recovery.

More than six months into the pandemic, over 6 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The virus has killed more Americans than the entirety of World War I, with 194,000 dead to date. One paramedic called the volume of this tragedy “Like 9/11 every day.”  Millions of people have found themselves out of work or forced to close their businesses. Frontline essential workers risk their lives every day to fight the pandemic and keep communities running.

“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.

“We must also recognize that the grief we are experiencing is not normal, that there is no normal after a tragedy of this scale,” Sabila continued. “Congress, the White House, and all of our elected officials must do more to combat the physical, mental, and economic devastation that we continue to face from COVID-19. As Americans, we must all commit to the behaviors that will help us tackle this virus and rebuild our communities. It is time for us all to come together and do all we can to beat COVID-19.”

One month before the election, the National COVID-19 Remembrance will honor the dead and call for all Americans to take action. After six months of national sacrifice and for the first time, Americans will take a moment to acknowledge the loss we’ve experienced as a nation and the extent of this crisis. A collaborative effort led by Covid Survivors for Change, the event 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, with elements including:

  • 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, installed on The Ellipse

  • Memorial tributes where loved ones will be honored virtually and during the program on October 4

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 a home care and nursing home worker, the up close and personal care I provide seniors and people with disabilities puts me at risk of exposure to all sorts of conditions and ailments. I love what I do and pour my heart into the care I provide so I do my best to protect myself. But COVID-19 was a different animal,” said Sepia Coleman, a certified nursing assistant from Tennessee. In her 24-year career, Coleman has faced chronically low wages and a lack of essential benefits, such as health insurance and paid time off. Without the PPE she needed to stay safe on the front lines of COVID-19, Coleman tested positive for the virus — twice.

“Never in my life have I experienced something as merciless as coronavirus, personally or professionally,” Sepia continued. “Even though I was incredibly sick, my employers pressured me to return to work because they were so short-staffed. I couldn’t believe they’d ask me to do that and knowingly expose clients and residents to the virus. I refused and was suspended. Now, without a paycheck, I’m facing eviction and have nearly $20,000 in medical bills. My story is just one of millions more, and I will never understand how employers and the federal government could watch this happen and turn a blind eye to us.”

With 194,000 lives lost to COVID-19, the United States accounts for more than 20 percent of the 921,000 total COVID deaths worldwide, though the country only comprises 4.25 percent of the global population. As the nation’s COVID death toll hits and passes 200,000, 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.

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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 lead 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 Equality Forum, Faces of COVID, 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.