FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear led a somber memorial service Sunday to remember the more than 10,000 Kentuckians who died from COVID-19 as health care workers recounted the daily struggles of fighting the pandemic and their personal moments with patients fighting for their lives.
To showcase the enormity of the loss, Beshear noted that Kentucky’s death toll from the global pandemic has surpassed the population of many towns across the state.
“Imagine any of those towns suddenly empty and you get an idea of the collective loss that this state has endured,” the governor said.
Beshear announced that Kentucky-native Amanda Matthews has been commissioned to create a COVID-19 Memorial that will be placed on the statehouse grounds.
Kentucky recently surpassed 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths. Those lost in the pandemic were remembered in prayers and speeches during the ceremony.
“My faith teaches me that every individual is a child of God, unique and irreplaceable,” Beshear said. “That means their lives and their losses deserve our respect and our attention.”
Health care workers recounted fighting the virus. Jamar Wattley, a nurse at Baptist Health La Grange, recalled praying with patients and seeing the “glow” in their faces while talking about loved ones. And sometimes he heard their final goodbyes.
“I remember the feeling of sorrow because of the failure that I still feel that I was not able to get you over that hill onto the road to recovery,” he said.
Dr. Philip Overall, with St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, said the state’s medical teams worked through the “darkest days of this pandemic.”
“Together, we gave everything that we had for the men, women and children of the commonwealth,” he said. “Together, we held their hands, prayed with them, gave them hope and encouragement and worked tirelessly to give them the best care possible.”