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WATCH: National Cathedral rings bells in memory of 600k+ U.S. citizens lost to COVID-19

The landmark Washington National Cathedral marked COVID-19’s grim death toll of an estimated 600,000 Americans lost to the disease by tolling its mourning bell 600 times – once for every 1,000 dead on Thursday afternoon.

Watch the event in the player above.

On its website the cathedral describes its 12-ton bell used for every funeral held there.

“Funerals mourn the loss, but they also celebrate the lives of our loved ones, and point us to the hope of resurrection. This gesture cannot replace the lives lost, but we hope it will help each American mourn the toll of this pandemic,” it says.

The lives lost, as recorded by Johns Hopkins University, are about equal to the population of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and greater than that of Baltimore; Albuquerque, New Mexico; or Tucson, Arizona.

The tolling will take one hour.

The U.S. saw remarkable increases in the death rates for heart disease, diabetes and some other common killers in 2020, and experts believe a big reason may be that many people with dangerous symptoms made the lethal mistake of staying away from the hospital for fear of catching the coronavirus.

The death rates posted online this week by federal health authorities add to the growing body of evidence that the number of lives lost directly or indirectly to the coronavirus in the U.S. is far greater than the officially reported COVID-19 death toll of nearly 600,000 in 2020-21.

For months now, researchers have known that 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, primarily because of COVID-19.

But the data released this week showed the biggest increases in the death rates for heart disease and diabetes in at least 20 years.