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Making the case for a national day of remembrance for those lost to COVID-19

One of the most prominent voices advocating for a national day of remembrance for those lost to COVID-19 is Kristin Urquiza. She co-founded the advocacy group, Marked By COVID, after she lost her father to the pandemic last year. She joins Jeffrey Brown from San Francisco to discuss why the nation needs the "time and space to mourn and grieve."

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    As we heard earlier, the rollout of a third COVID-19 vaccine raises hopes about moving toward a more typical kind of life in the months to come.

    But, even as the country looks forward, there are calls for a new national COVID Memorial Day to reflect on the more than 500,000 American lives lost.

    Jeffrey Brown has that conversation.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    One of the most prominent voices advocating for a national day of remembrance is Kristin Urquiza. She co-founded the advocacy group Marked By COVID after she lost her father to the pandemic last year.

    She joins me now from San Francisco.

    Thank you for talking to us.

    I know that this started for you in a very personal way, but why do you think now that we need a national day of mourning and of remembrance?

  • Kristin Urquiza:

    There are over half a million people that we have already lost to this incredible pandemic.

    A national day of remembrance, a COVID memorial day, is essential to be able to give people the time and space to mourn and grieve. Our overall response to the pandemic needs to be commensurate to the scale of the problem.

    So, having a day of remembrance is just a tip of the iceberg to help make sure that folks like me and others who have been marked by COVID have the space and support to wrap our heads around what happened and why.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    We did a story on the "NewsHour" a few weeks ago looking at some of the various kinds of commemoration efforts that are going on, public art, memorials.

    What are you seeing around the country? How strong is the need?

  • Kristin Urquiza:

    The momentum is growing for the need.

    Today, we know of at least 100 grassroots vigils that are happening. We're hosting an online vigil, which we will have probably several hundred people attending. And cities across the country are also issuing proclamations calling for a national day of memorial and remembrance.

    This is widely supported and widely supported by people on every side of the aisle. It is a place for us to unify and heal. And we're really excited to see the momentum grow for it.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    You know, an obvious question is, why not wait until later, after we're in the — while we're still in the midst of it here?

    And I can't help think also about historians I have talked about the 1919 pandemic, the influenza, who talked about, when it ended, there was such a strong sense of just moving on. There are not a lot of memorials to that.

    Do you worry about that happening here? And how do you maintain the momentum?

  • Kristin Urquiza:

    I'm absolutely worried about that, which is why — part of the reason why we launched Marked By COVID, which is led by and run by people who have lost loved ones to the pandemic.

    We want to make sure that we commit to never forget, to also document in the history books the unvarnished truth of what happened and why, so that we can prevent this from ever happening again.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    All right, Kristin Urquiza of the group Marked By COVID, thank you very much.

  • Kristin Urquiza:

    Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Something to consider seriously.

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