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Evanston will be part of the Floral Hearts Project on March 1. Image from https://www.floralheartproject.com/

About 300,000 deaths ago, people began calling for a collective way to mourn those the country lost to COVID-19. Evanston is one of many municipalities across the country that recognizes March 1 as COVID-19 Memorial Day, an observance advocated by the group Marked by COVID.

Thanks to the efforts of Evanston native Mary O’Connor, the Evanston community will also take part in the Floral Heart Project.

Ms. O’Connor, a horticulturalist by profession, runs the cut flower division of the Pan-American / Ball Seed Company. Hearing about the Floral Heart Project, she contacted founder Kristina Libby and offered to help.

Ms. Libby’s message at floralheartproject.com is, “Please join with us to recognize March 1st as a National Day of Mourning, by volunteering to create a floral heart, lay a floral heart or donate to help others lay and create hearts.”

Evanston native Mary O’Connor spoke via Zoom at the Feb. 22 City Council meeting to describe the Floral Hearts Project.

Ms. O’Connor spoke via Zoom at the Feb. 22 City Council meeting. “I’m very proud of my hometown, to be one of the first to sign on to this resolution. The resolution comes from the group Marked by COVID, a group of volunteers and activists around acknowledging and helping those who have lost relatives and loved ones from COVID.

“I think we’re all really aware of the pain and the loss. This pandemic has brought so many people in our country, and I have become aware that grieving at a social distance is a very difficult thing to do. And so a lot of people are delaying grief or their grief is disenfranchised. So I think everything we can do to reach out to comfort to support is important at this time.”

Northshore University HealthSystem and AMITA Health Saint Francis will each host the Floral Hearts Project in its main-floor atrium after 3 p.m. on March 1; the installations may remain for up to three days, Ms. O’Connor said. Mask-wearing and social-distancing will be enforced

Ms. O’Connor thanked City staff, Alderman Eleanor Revelle, Mayor Hagerty, Rotary International, Downtown Evanston, the Justin Wynne Leadership Academy, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness for their help.

On Feb. 26, Arizona Representative Greg Stanton introduced a resolution in the house to recognize the first Monday in March as COVID-19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day. The resolution, which will likely not garner before March 1 the bicameral support necessary to create a national day, calls for the House of Representatives to memorialize those lost to the COVID– 3 19 virus; recognize the suffering of those who contracted the COVID–19 virus and survived but carry with them the unknown health side effects; and express support for the designation of 8 COVID–19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day.

Of the 3,916 COVID-19 cases contracted by Evanston residents during the pandemic, 199 are active. A total of 111 Evanstonians have died from the disease.  A person who wishes to remain anonymous has created a memorial on the south Civic Center lawn to Evanstonians lost to COVID-19.