President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee on Thursday announced plans to hold a national memorial in remembrance of the more than 340,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.
The memorial will be held on January 19, the day before Biden will be sworn in, at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. The pool will be lit during the ceremony.
“The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey,” committee communications director Pili Tobar said in a statement. “However, in the midst of a pandemic–when so many Americans are grieving the loss of family, friends, and neighbors–it is important that we honor those who have died, reflect on what has been one of the more challenging periods in the nation’s history, and renew our commitment to coming together to end the pandemic and rebuild our nation.”
The committee’s announcement included an invitation for towns and cities to come together “in a national moment of unity and remembrance” by ringing church bells and lighting up buildings when the memorial begins at 5:30 AM ET.
Plans for the memorial come as the country continues to reach grim milestones during the pandemic: Johns Hopkins University reports that about 342,000 Americans have died from the virus as of Thursday morning, and Wednesday saw more than 3,740 deaths in one day, breaking the daily COVID-19 death toll for the second day in a row.