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Iowans Lost To COVID-19 Remembered

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Iowa Rep. Marti Anderson reads the first list of names in front of the state Capitol on Wednesday. The day marked the one-year anniversary of the first reported COVID-19 death in the state. A tear fell down her cheek as she started reading her list.

Iowans who have lost their lives to COVID-19 were remembered today at the state Capitol. State leaders and volunteers read the names of those who have died.

March 24, 2020 marked the day the first Iowan died of COVID-19. Since then, more than 5,500 more have lost their lives.

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State Sen. Janet Petersen prepares her list of names with the help of Matt Sinovic, the executive director of Progress Iowa. They stand outside the state Capitol on Wednesday. Petersen would read the name of a family friend who died of COVID-19. "I think it's especially important that we recognize how difficult the grieving process has been for so many families," Petersen said.

In memory of those lost, a coalition of elected state officials and other organization leaders read selections of their names in front of the state Capitol. The memorial was live streamed.

State Sen. Janet Petersen, who represents the northwest side of Des Moines, volunteered. She held a list of the names she would read—one of which was a family friend.

“Losing a relative or a loved one to COVID-19 has been an especially hard time for people. They haven’t had the ability to have their support networks close by to grieve," Petersen said. She explained many people have not been able to plan proper funerals or hospital visits in light of social distancing guidelines.

The volunteers were only able to read about 700 names, but any Iowans who have lost family members or loved ones are encouraged to submit their names to the ongoing virtual memorial website.

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Mike McCarthy addresses listeners of the virtual lCOVID-19 memorial event. "Wear your mask. Wash your hands, keep a safe distance from others and get vaccinated and we will prevail," McCarthy said. He took off his mask only to speak, but kept it on for the rest of the memorial.

"Today, we remember those who needlessly fell to this unnecessary crisis. We must remember how we got here. Why? And pledge to never, never have this happen again," said Mike McCarthy, the president of the Iowa Alliance of Retired Americans.

The 78-year-old said he and other people his age have lived the past year with a target on their backs. Eight out of every ten COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have been among adults 65 and older.

McCarthy, along with some of the other speakers, emphasized how important it is that people continue to wear masks and take other public health precautions to keep their loved ones safe. That includes getting vaccinated.