News & Politics

Look at These 20,000 Empty Chairs on the Mall—Then Imagine the 200,000 People We’ve Lost

President Trump himself is in the hospital with the virus, and the crisis is far from over.

Look at These 20,000 Empty Chairs on the Mall—Then Imagine the 200,000 People We’ve Lost

As President Trump remained in Walter Reed hospital with Covid-19 on Sunday, 20,000 chairs lined the Ellipse—representing a fraction of the more than 209,000 residents of the US who have died from the virus so far. As with other recent Covid-19 tributes, the stunning array only begins to capture the scope of the devastation, with each one representing 10 lives lost.

The group behind the tribute, Covid Survivors for Change, is comprised of families of victims and survivors who are calling for elected officials to “do more to develop a national plan for safety and recovery.” Events hosted by emcee Dionne Warwick were streamed live throughout the day.⁠

“These are our grandparents, our parents, our siblings, children, coworkers, and neighbors,” the event’s website states. “We are all at risk. No one is immune from this pandemic. This crisis is not over.”

Washingtonian photographer Evy Mages captured the tribute.

Brian Walter and his mother, Margaret, traveled to the memorial from Queens to mourn the loss of their father and husband, John Walter. John was hospitalized with the virus on April 22 and died on May 10. ⁠⠀
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“I lost my father,” Brian’s mask reads. “I wear this mask to protect yours. #notjustanumber”⁠⠀     

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Social Media Producer

Hannah is Washingtonian’s Social Media Producer. She’s a proud Kentuckian who lives in Petworth with her bunny Ruthie.