Joe Biden and Kamala Harris hosted a national mourning for Americans killed by the coronavirus Tuesday night — nearly one year after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States.
Landmarks across the country were lit in honor of the lives lost in the pandemic — from the Empire State Building in New York City to the Space Needle in Seattle. In Philadelphia, the PECO building, Boathouse Row, City Hall and Sports Complex were among the sites decorated in amber lights.
“Tonight, we honored the many lives lost to COVID-19 and joined communities across our country in mourning,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted. “At a time when we are all grieving, this was a much-needed moment of unity and remembrance.”
Philadelphia has recorded 2,730 COVID-related deaths and 104,648 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. Nationally, more than 400,000 people have died.
The Biden Inauguration team led a memorial service at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. at sunset Tuesday evening, The New York Times reported.
“To heal we must remember,” Biden said on the eve of his presidential inauguration. “It’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation. That’s why we’re here today. Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all whom we lost.”
Biden stood in front of the Reflecting Pool, which was surrounded by 400 lights symbolizing the 400,000 Americans killed by COVID-19. His inaugural committee encouraged Americans to light candles from their windows to participate in the event.
The remembrance marked the first nationwide COVID-19 memorial since the start of the pandemic. President Donald Trump, who recovered from the virus, declined to hold a similar event, according to the Times.
Delaware County Council joined in the memorial in a live-streamed event, observing a moment of silence for the victims of the virus.
Delaware County Council/Livestream
“Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the deaths of over 400,000 Americans and we have lost a total of 1,061 beloved Delaware County residents to the virus,” said Council Chairman Brian Zidek. “We mourn the loss of each member of our community and we honor them here tonight.”
Council members stood outside the county courthouse surrounded by candles and luminaries representing each county member killed by the virus. Church bells rang out as the government officials bowed their heads during the moment of silence.
Delaware County Medical Examiner Dr. Frederic Hellman said coronavirus infections are increasing as a more contagious variant of the virus has appeared in the country.
“The number of people thus far infected by the virus and the death toll to date is staggering,” Hellman said. “Worldwide, 95.5 million people have been infected with over two million dead, with the U.S. disproportionately represented and leading the world with 24.7 million COVID-19 infections confirmed and 409,000 deaths.”
He urged residents to continue to wash their hands, wear face masks and practice social distancing.