PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 20, 2020) - On Friday, Oct. 23, 850 empty chairs will be displayed on Independence Mall. Each chair will represent ten people lost to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. The chairs will be set up from 10 am to 6 pm with a brief remembrance ceremony at 12 pm. The organization, “COVID Survivors for Change,” will bring together Americans virtually to honor those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19, as well as those who have survived the virus.
The event will amplify the voices of COVID survivors, acknowledge the country’s collective loss, and call for a national plan for recovery. The day is inspired by the National Day of Remembrance in DC on Oct. 4 were 20,000 empty chairs symbolized the over 200,000 lives that were lost to COVID-19. The imagery is powerful and the survivors are banding together to demand a responsible, data-backed approach to pandemic prevention.
The chairs will be displayed from 10 am to 6 pm. A brief remembrance with survivors and those who have lost loved ones is scheduled to start at 12 pm. The ceremony will be streamed online. Masks are mandatory at this socially-distanced event. Speakers include:
Chris Kocher, executive director of COVID Survivors for Change. Noe Sepulveda: Noe is a nurse anesthetist who survived COVID and lost his mother Teresa to COVID after she spent 36 days on a ventilator. Teresa immigrated to the United States when she was in her 20’s and worked as a shoe maker, before retiring to be a “stay home grandmother” to Noe’s three children. Carol Lewis and Jeff Green: Carol and Jeff's dear Father Hiram J Green passed away from Covid-19 on April 13th at the age of 86. Their Dad was a proud veteran who served in the Army during the Korean War. He later worked as a Computer Field Technician, retiring after a distinguished career as one of few African Americans working in the field when he started. A true pioneer! Mr. Green was a devoted husband and father who deeply loved his family. He loved watching sports and listening to jazz music. He lived in Allentown, PA for over 45 years and was well known in the community. Members of Commonwealth Youthchoirs: Commonwealth Youthchoirs is a nonprofit organization with a mission to transform the lives of young people through the power of singing together.
Organizers are calling on the White House and Congress to do more. This pandemic isn’t over and we will not let its growing number of victims and survivors be forgotten. The event is led by Covid Survivors for Change, a national community of families of victims and survivors who are working together to support each other, share real-life stories so that others can better understand the impacts of the pandemic, and advocate for a stronger pandemic response to help save the lives of others.