As part of last Sunday’s National COVID-19 Remembrance Ceremony, 20,000 empty chairs were set up on the lawn of the National Mall in Washington D.C., facing the White House. There is approximately one chair for 100 American coronavirus deaths.

The live-streamed ceremony and the display of chairs were set up by COVID Survivors for Change, a network of people affected by the virus working to help other survivors and amplify policies and information that could save lives.

“As a grassroots, non-partisan community, we are committed to elevating survivors’ voices, finding community in tragedy, and empowering our neighbors and lawmakers to better respond to this pandemic and future ones, too,” the network describes on their site.

The organization was founded by Chris Kocher, who told CNN that the remembrance ceremony was not only a way of hallmarking the current 200,000 death toll and the pandemic’s six month presence in the United States, but also a way of providing national recognition to those affected.

“We are living through this collective national trauma — we’re six months into the pandemic and still sort of reeling from it,” Kocher said. “A big part of compounding people’s grief … is the lack of acknowledgment, lack of recognition.”

During the remembrance ceremony, the organizations members shared stories of how their lives were affected by the virus. At the beginning and end of the YouTube stream, the victims were honored with an hour long display of the deads’ names, a series of their photos, and coronavirus facts and statistics.


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