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March 12, 2021

Virtual remembrance to mark COVID-19 pandemic's first anniversary in Philly

City officials and religious leaders will offer reflections Tuesday — one year after the city's first major restrictions went into effect

Memorials COVID-19
Philly COVID Anniversary Chris LaChall/Courier-Post

The Navy Blue Angels fly over the Philadelphia skyline on April 28, 2020 as part of a tribute to front-line workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, and its restrictions, were in their infancy at the time.

It's nearly been one year since Philadelphia officials enacted the city's first COVID-19 restrictions in response to a pandemic that has upended everyday life, caused massive unemployment, forced business closures and killed thousands of residents. 

City officials will recognize the anniversary Tuesday with a day of remembrance highlighted by a virtual event featuring reflections from city and religious leaders.

The city enacted its first restrictions on March 16, 2020, forcing restaurants, bars and other non-essential businesses to close. One week later all city residents had been ordered to stay home. Since then, various restrictions have been tightened or loosened in response to transmission rates. 

More than 121,000 city residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of pandemic. Nearly 3,2000 have died. 

"As Philadelphia marks this somber milestone, we invite residents, businesses, faith leaders and community groups to come together for a day of reflection as we honor the nearly 3,200 lives lost to COVID-19 and look forward to brighter days ahead," city officials said

Mayor Jim Kenney will begin the reflections with a few words Tuesday morning. At noon, churches and other places of worship are invited to ring bells, light candles or join in other displays honoring the city's COVID-19 victims. Residents are invited to share photos of these displays and post their own reflections using #PhillyReflects. 

At 1 p.m., Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley and Kenney will hold the city's weekly COVID-19 press briefing. 

The signature event, "We are a City Changed: Ritual and Reflection after one year in a Pandemic," will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Kenney, the Office of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs and other city leaders will mark the anniversary through words, ritual and music. It will "reflect on what this year has meant to us and look forward to the days ahead," officials said. 

At 7 p.m., the city skyline will be lit in blue to honor the city's front-line workers, first responders and COVID-19 victims. The skyline also was lit in blue on World Health Day last year. 

The day's events will be streamed on the city's Facebook page


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