Louisville announces Day of Remembrance to honor COVID-19 victims
Mayor Greg Fischer today was joined by Dr. Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness (LMPHW); Martha Greenwald, founding director of The WhoWeLost Project; and Dr. Amy Shah, senior adult psychiatrist at Seven Counties Services, to provide an update on COVID-19 and discuss the grief and trauma the city has faced throughout the two-year pandemic.
The briefing was held in-person for the first time in two years, which prompted a moment of great reflection.
“We have learned and continue learning how to live our lives with the virus,” Mayor Fischer said. “Good days are indeed ahead, but we cannot simply move on and forget all the loss our community has endured.”
To date, more than 2,200 people have died in Jefferson County after contracting COVID-19.
“Over 2,200 people in our community are still mourning the loss of life to this deadly virus. Sadly, sometimes we hear people use the word ‘only’ when they critique public health actions. ‘Only’ a percentage of people get seriously ill. ‘Only’ a percentage of people die,” the Mayor said. “There is no ‘only’ a percentage when it’s your mother, father, brother, sister or child who has been hospitalized or has died because of the virus.”
Mayor Fischer said to honor the lives lost due to COVID-19 and to recognize the collective trauma our community has faced, a Day of Remembrance will be held on March 18, 2022 – two years after Jefferson County reported its first COVID-19 death.
On Friday, Metro and City halls will be lighted in green, as well as the Big Four Bridge. City leaders are also asking residents to turn on their green lights at their homes and businesses and to wear green, a color that represents compassion. The Mayor also asked residents to observe a moment of silence at noon.
“Let’s honor those that we’ve lost. Let’s show solidarity with their families. Let’s always remember to add to our city’s reserve of resiliency,” he said. “And let’s remember so we never forget how we reached the day of the declining numbers we are seeing now.”
Here are the key COVID-19 data metrics for March 15, 2022:
Dr. Moyer said for the first time in two years Jefferson County is in the green, the “low” COVID-19 community level category.
- Daily incidence rate of 19.6 cases per 100,000 population
- Weekly incidence rate of 147.85 cases per 100,000 population
- 1,055 new cases reported over the previous week
- 67 newly reported deaths
- 70 patients currently hospitalized
- 12 patients in ICU
- 7 patients on ventilators
- 75.2% of Louisville residents have received at least one dose of vaccine
- 65% have completed the vaccine series
- 44.9% have received a booster dose
Dr. Moyer said as of this past week there are no signs of the omicron BA.2 variant in Jefferson County. The variant is suspected of causing an increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe and Asia.
“Once it gets here, it could possibly hit us hard. I want to encourage everyone who is not vaccinated and boosted yet to get their shots so you will have that immunity when/if that time comes,” Dr. Moyer said.
Dr. Moyer reminded everyone to still consider those who are high-risk for severe COVID-19 infection.
“Especially our senior community and those that are immunocompromised. We still need to do the work to protect everyone,” Dr. Moyer said. “The first recommendation is to be up-to-date on vaccinations. Testing is also still important. If you are high-risk, or someone you know is high-risk, it’s important to take extra precautions like getting tested before visiting and wearing a mask when around those people.”
City leaders are encouraging Kentuckians to also remember those who died of COVID-19 by reading and writing stories on the WhoWeLost website.
Greenwald, a writer, created the platform knowing how therapeutic writing can be.
“While some feel it’s ‘back to normal’ and wonder why a project like this is even needed, I can tell you from all the people I speak to that, for many, normal no longer exists,” Greenwald said.
Greenwald said WhoWeLost offers posts that ensures dignity and respect. Mourners can share their stories without fear of comments from social media trolls, judgement, questions and politics.
“When someone dies from cancer or an accident no one questions the death, but too often when COVID deaths are brought up the mourner may hear an insensitive litany of comments like ‘oh, they were old anyway, or they had heart problems or were diabetic,’” Greenwald said. “Unnecessary shame becomes attached to the tragedy, and this complicates the mourning and adds to the pain.”
Dr. Shah addressed individual and collective grief felt by community members.
“The difficulty of mourning our losses during this COVID-19 pandemic is complicated and full of contradictions. Not only do our losses include the deaths of friends and relatives, but also the personal losses of being isolated and not being able to connect,” Dr. Shah said.
Dr. Shah said grief can impact someone mentally, physically, financially, socially and spiritually. She said losing one family member can have a devastating impact on a family.
“One person might have helped buy groceries for a family filled with children. They may have watched their grandchildren at home. They may have been a steadfast member of their neighborhood, caring for others in need. That one person might have had the smile someone was looking forward to when they got home after work,” Dr. Shah said.
The adult psychiatrist said it’s important to mourn and remember those who have died. Dr. Shah said if you are struggling with grief to reach out to family, friends and health care professionals if needed. You can call the Seven Counties crisis line at 502-589-4313.
View this week’s COVID-19 briefing with public health officials here.
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The city’s COVID-19 data dashboard, a complete list of COVID-19 testing sites, vaccine information, prevention and more can be found at www.louisvilleky.gov/covid19. The LOU HEALTH COVID19 Helpline is also available: 502-912-8598.