Thousands of American flags were installed in the ground near the Washington Monument this week in remembrance of the lives lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID Memorial Project organizers planned the flag installation as America reached another significant death toll since the virus swept across the nation. The 20,000 flags that were planted in Washington, D.C. represented more than 200,000 American deaths due to COVID-19. In fact, the U.S. went over the 200,000 death toll on Tuesday.
The organizers identified themselves as a group of friends in the D.C. area. They created a GoFundMe page that launched in late August. The group is critical of President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Accordingly, their GoFundMe description said every flag would face the White House.
“This extreme loss of life is staggering—but was not inevitable: the President’s poor handling of the virus response has led to tens of thousands of excess deaths,” wrote the organizers.
“This administration has done nothing to memorialize this stunning number of lives lost—instead choosing to downplay, minimize, and ignore whenever possible,” the organizers added. “No flags lowered, no service held, no day of mourning declared—so the COVID Memorial Project seeks to simply say: these lives are more than a statistic—they were family, friends, neighbors.”
The GoFundMe campaign raised more than $1,800 in contributions by donors who helped fund the flag purchases. The organizers and other volunteers helped install the thousands of American flags on Monday.
The plan is to leave the flags in place until sunset on Wednesday. Afterward, volunteers will help remove all the flags from the base of the Washington Monument, organizers stated.
COVID-19 Cases Still Prevalent Across the U.S.
According to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, America has more than 6.8 million COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday. The U.S. has led the world as the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases. Those numbers are tracked as of late March, about two weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
In addition, America leads the world with the highest number of virus-related deaths. However, it is still behind 10 other countries in ratio of deaths compared to positive infections. For example, France, Mexico, and Brazil all have a higher ratio. The U.S. has around a 2.9 percent fatality rate among confirmed cases.
Trump has drawn criticism for his handling of the pandemic since the outbreak began. Specifically, due to his administration’s changing messages on quarantines, face coverings, risk assessments and more.
Health officials have worried about a second wave of COVID-19 infections this fall. Additionally, the WHO recommends a 5 percent or lower testing positivity levels. Yet, more than half of American states are still reporting infection rates above that threshold.