DelCo remembers COVID victims

Candles were lit, and church bells chimed. It was an evening for Delaware County to remember and mourn the county victims of COVID-19. More than 1,000 county residents have died from the virus since the pandemic hit here almost a year ago.

The county later announced additional categories for people eligible for vaccinations under the Phase 1A.

County Council President Brian Zidek and others gathered on the courthouse steps amid LED candles in collective mourning for the dead and hope for the families of the fallen. The ceremony was part of a national remembrance, Zidek said.

Each candle represents a life lost from COVID in Delaware County.

"Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the death of [more than] 400,000 Americans, and we have lost a total of 1,061beloved Delaware County residents to the virus," Zidek said. "These are family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, members of our community. Each luminary represents a life lost. We mourn the loss of each member of our community and honor them here tonight."

Adding to the sense of grief, he said, was that many family members could not be with their loved ones in their moments of personal loss to say good-bye because of restrictions.

"It's important that we pause and reflect and remember each person we have lost. We hope this memorial will serve as a collective healing for our community," Zidek said.

County Medical Examiner Dr. Frederic Hellman spoke of losing a friend last week and how he learned of his friend's death when that friend wound up on the medical examiner's examination table after taking his own life. Hellman acknowledged an increase in suicides during this almost year-long pandemic.

"As I stand before you today, sharing in the grief and feelings of guilt that many are experiencing as a consequence of this COVID-19 pandemic, know that to grieve is to be alive, that to experience loss is to know that you loved and that we are collectively as one in community as we struggle through the horrifying toll wrought by the Coronavirus pandemic," Hellman said.

He added that the county is experiencing a surge in COVID cases as a new mutated form of the virus is coming into the country, but said there is hope through vaccination and the continued mitigation procedures of masking, social distancing, and handwashing.

Following the event on the courthouse steps, the county issued a press release saying Pennsylvania has made changes to who can get vaccinations as part of Phase 1A.

All individuals 65 and older — and those between 16 and 64 years of age with certain medical conditions as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus — are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. A list of those medical conditions may be found on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html. For information about qualifying for a Phase 1A vaccination and to learn where to go, visit https://www.pa.gov/guides/get-vaccinated/#Step2FindaVaccineProvider

To date, 13,836 vaccinations have been given in Delaware County, the press release said.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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