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'Remember The Faces Behind The Numbers': Jersey City Residents Mourn Lives Lost To COVID-19 Pandemic As US Death Toll Surpasses 400,000

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Communities across America are together mourning the loss of more than 400,000 people, the staggering new total of U.S. deaths from COVID-19.

With all the headlines and hope surrounding the vaccine, Tuesday's event was a painful reminder that people are still dying of COVID every day in our neighborhoods.

About three dozen people appeared at an event in Jersey City.


They say the grief that comes with losing a loved one to coronavirus is especially complicated and traumatic because so many of them weren't allowed to be at the bedside when their family member died. They couldn't hold their hand and, in many cases, didn't even get to say goodbye or have a proper burial.

"COVID took the strongest man I've ever known within a week's time," one woman said.

Holding their loved ones in their heart and photos in their hands, family members mourned at the steps of City Hall.

"My father spent the last week of his life in a hospital three blocks away from us, and we couldn't be with him," Jersey City resident Sabila Khan told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

When Khan's father passed away last April, she didn't get to say goodbye. Being with those who understand COVID grief is therapeutic, she says.

"Remember the faces behind the numbers to remember that they had names. They had lives. They loved. They had families that they've now left behind, and they died horrible, lonely deaths. That's what I want the country to remember," Khan told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

RELATED STORY: Friends, Family Who Have Lost Loved Ones To COVID-19 Finding Comfort, Support With Others Amid 'Tsunami Of Grief'

The event was part of the national moment of unity and remembrance.

At the National Cathedral in Washington, funeral bells rang out 400 times. White flags went up outside a museum in Missouri. There were candlelit moments of silence in Chicago.

The Empire State Building illuminates amber red to support the Biden Inaugural Committee's COVID-19 Memorial: A National Moment of Unity and Remembrance in New York City, New York on January 19, 2021. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic worldwide has claimed over 2 million lives and infected over 95.6 million people. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

In New York, the Empire State Building was shining bright, and at the Statue of Liberty, Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the tragedy endured by New York City.

MORE -- NYC Buildings Lit Up To Honor 400,000 Americans Who Have Died From COVID-19

Earlier, the mayor issued a warning, saying New York City is on track to run out of vaccines this Thursday.

"We will have literally nothing left to give as of Friday," he said.

If the Biden administration OKs New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's request to buy supplies directly from Pfizer, Rockland County Executive Ed Day wants a guarantee that more doses will go to his county.

"The fact of the matter is Rockland County is woefully being shorted," he said.

MORE -- New York City On Track To Run Out Of COVID Vaccine This Week, Mayor Says

Right now, Rockland County is out of the vaccine with no answer as to when the next shipment is coming from Albany.

"This is bureaucratic arrogance. It's pathetic, and it's sad," Day said.

Nearly a quarter of the 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID passed away in the last month, a sobering reminder as we wait for the vaccine to get to more people.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report.



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