National Cathedral tolls bell for 500,000 who died of COVID-19 in United States

Posted Feb 23, 2021

[Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral on Feb. 22 tolled its bell 500 times, once for every 1,000 people who have died from COVID-19 in the United States. As the cathedral marks the death toll topping a half million this week, millions of people are receiving vaccinations against the coronavirus.

Daily vaccinations peaked at 1.7 million Americans a week ago, but that pace slowed after a winter storm battered much of the country, according The New York Times. President Joe Biden has set a goal of vaccinating 1.5 million people a day in the race to curb the virus’ spread. About 44 million have received at least the first dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

National Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Washington in the nation’s capital, has tolled its bell each time an additional 100,000 coronavirus deaths have been reported. The livestream of this week’s bell tolling also included prayers of mourning from interfaith leaders.

“This gesture cannot replace the lives lost, but we hope it will help each American mourn the toll of this pandemic,” the cathedral said.

The cathedral also has launched a memorial project for COVID-19 victims. Survivors can submit the names of loved ones who have died, and the latest submissions will be read during virtual prayer services each week.