ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — With more than 9,000 confirmed deaths to COVID-19 in Georgia, those who experienced the virus first-hand held a ceremony to honor the victims. CW69’s Valencia Jones spoke with one of the survivors who joined the event.

Conyers resident Carol Lewis lost her father, 86-year-old Korean War Veteran Hiram Green to COVID-19 in April. Her mother had just died unexpectedly three days before. Both of them were in a long term care facility for veterans in Pennsylvania.

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“The virus got into the facility, and my father died along with 47 other veterans,” said Lewis. She and other members of a non-partisan movement called ‘COVID Survivors For Change’ shared their stories at Georgia’s COVID Day of Remembrance. The group works to provide resources and funding to address the pandemic.

“This remembrance is a call for the us as a community to unite in resilience, the kind of resilience that requires our country to get to the other side of this pandemic,” said Grace Community Fellowship Church Pastor Frederick Caldwell.

They displayed 1,000 empty chairs outside the State Capitol, honoring Georgia’s nearly 10,000 lives lost due to COVID-19 and 300,000 deaths nationwide.

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“Just the fact that our country did not respond just makes the pain even worse,” said Lewis.

“I hope that we can come together to honor their lives by advocating for change,” said Congresswoman Lucy McBath (D-Ga., 6th District).

Members are holding elected officials accountable and calling for a data-based approach to ending the pandemic. “This is my opportunity to lift my voice and encourage my fellow Georgians to do the same,” Lewis said. “I’m pushing forward in their honor, because I know it would make them proud.”

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