Community Health

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has declared March 18 a day of remembrance for the more than 2,200 Jefferson County residents who have died from COVID-19. 

It’s the anniversary of the first recorded COVID death in the county two years ago. 

He made the announcement Tuesday during the first in-person COVID briefing in two years, calling each of those who have died “a light who went out too soon.”

Metro Hall, City Hall and the Big Four Bridge will be lit in green, and he asks residents to wear green, light their porches and observe a moment of silence at noon. 

Fischer admonished those who have downplayed the virus.

“There is no ‘only a percentage’ when it’s your mother or father or brother or sister or child who’s hospitalized with a deadly novel virus that we still can’t fully understand,” he said. 

“There’s no ‘only a percentage’ when you’re mourning the loss of someone dear to you, someone who should still be with you.”

Like much of the rest of the state and region, Jefferson County has seen a quick drop in COVID cases in the last few weeks. 

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness reported 1,055 new cases last week, and Director Sarah Moyer said Tuesday the positivity rate is now 5.14%. 

Fischer said although COVID is not over, now is a good time to start to process the loss of the last two years. 

“We must also recognize that on top of the individual and family trauma, there is a collective trauma that we have gone through as a city and a state and a nation as a country. This is something that most folks have not experienced, this global pandemic,” he said. 

“Put on top of that the war in Ukraine, put on top of that the racial justice protests that we went through, the gun violence that’s increasing in cities all over America … it is a lot for people to process. And it’s very important that we do process that.”

He said he will be working with  community organizations and neighborhood groups on related outreach efforts. 

Places like whowelostKY.org, a website for Kentuckians to share stories of loved ones, can provide a measure of healing. 

“The answer is not to forget the lives lost during this tragedy,” said Amy Shah, senior adult psychiatrist at Seven Counties Services. “I think our loved ones who died of COVID would never want us to give up. They would want us to build a future for this city.”

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.