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House Democrats Hold Memorial For Oklahomans Killed By COVID-19

Rep. Forrest Bennett

Oklahoma House Democrats took time Monday night to honor Oklahomans killed by COVID-19.

A small band began the memorial by playing "Peace Like A River."

Rep. Merleyn Bell of Norman said it was important to her and her colleagues to support thousands of fellow Oklahomans who have lost loved ones over the past 10 months.

"Those who remain contend with an unexpected and unrelenting sorrow and grief that they have until now carried largely in silence," Bell said from the steps of the capitol.

Rep. Ajay Pittman of Oklahoma City read from John O’Donohue’s poem "For Grief," reaching out to the family and friends of what was at the time nearly 3,600 Oklahomans known to have died from COVID-19.

"Though this loss has wounded others, too, no one knows what has been taken from you. When the silence of absence deepens, flickers of guilt kindle regret for all that was left unsaid and undone," Pittman read.

Rep. Trish Ranson of Stillwater closed out the memorial by singing "Amazing Grace."

The state reported 1,058 COVID deaths in January, the most during the pandemic to date.

House Democrats have been critical of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s COVID-19 response and Republican lawmakers’ choice not to require masks during the legislative session. They have introduced several virus-related measures.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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