DeKalb’s COVID-19 memorial honors dead, pleads for continued caution

Credit: Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson

Credit: Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson

When DeKalb County leaders announced a virtual COVID-19 memorial in August, the county had suffered more than 200 deaths from the virus.

When the event took place Monday, that number had grown to 364.

Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson hosted the virtual memorial, which honored the lives of the deceased. During the 45-minute program, Johnson pleaded with residents to take precautions against the coronavirus.

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The event, which was delayed from its initial August date, featured speeches from local pastors and politicians, a poem, two previously televised music performances and a moment of silence.

Residents were able to provide names and photos of loved ones who died from COVID-19, and nearly 20 submissions were shown throughout the memorial.

During his speech, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said county government is working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, DeKalb’s District Health Director, urged residents to remain vigilant.

“Please continue to wear your masks, use your gloves, practice social distancing and avoid large crowds," she said. "Also, wash your hands like you’ve never washed your hands before.”

As of Monday, DeKalb had recorded nearly 18,700 positive cases of the coronavirus, according to data from Emory University. The state is approaching 300,000 cases and has surpassed 6,800 deaths.

The memorial’s program also featured two news segments about COVID-19 victims.

One was a a Channel 2 Action News report where Andre White Jr. spoke about losing both of his parents to the virus. The other was an 11Alive report about the death of a George McKibben, a Clayton County math teacher who was celebrated as one of the county’s first Black teachers in 1967.

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The video of the event is available on Mereda Johnson’s Facebook page.

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