COVID-19 memorial honoring those lost to virus will be dedicated Wednesday

Published 1:28 pm Monday, May 22, 2023

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Kentucky’s monument to honor those who died due to COVID-19 is nearly completed, and a dedication ceremony has been scheduled to take place next week on the grounds of the State Capitol.

The event will take place on Wednesday at 2 p.m., and Gov. Andy Beshear says the public is invited.

“This is a memorial where people can come to remember those loved ones they’ve lost,” he said, “and also recognize the amazing sacrifices and heroism of our first responders, our health care heroes and others.

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Kentucky native Amanda Matthews, an artist and chief executive officer of Lexington-based Prometheus Foundry, was commissioned to create the permanent Team Kentucky COVID-19 Memorial. It is located in the area of the Capitol grounds in Frankfort known as Monument Park, which is at the south end of Capital Avenue, where the loop around the Capitol building begins.

The memorial, titled “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” which is Kentucky’s state motto, will honor Kentucky’s losses and sacrifices since March 2020 and remind future generations of the challenges Kentuckians overcame together.

“After announcing the plans for the memorial in March 2021, more than 80 artists from across the country sent in their qualifications and a statement of interest,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “From that group, a panel of experts drawn from both state government and local arts organizations recommended 11 finalists, six of whom are either Kentucky artists or have strong ties to Kentucky.”

A COVID-19 Memorial Advisory Panel, whose membership included healthcare heroes, family members and loved ones of those lost, as well as COVID-19 survivors, selected the final design for the memorial. It has been built entirely with privately-raised funding, and no state money is involved.

It was originally hoped to have the dedication of the COVID Memorial in March 2022, but like everything else, its construction was delayed due to supply chain issues.

According to the Kentucky Department for Public Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 18,000 Kentuckians, and more than 1.7 million in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus since the first case was reported in the state on March 6, 2020.