The Washington National Cathedral and churches around the nation marked the grim milestone of 400,000 American deaths from the novel coronavirus by tolling their bells on Tuesday evening.
The Cathedral tolled the Bourdon Bell 400 times starting at 5:30 pm, with every toll representing each thousand people who fell victim to the infectious disease.
The move came in response to an invitation from President-elect Joe Biden‘s inaugural committee.
The National Cathedral’s Bourdon Bell is normally used when a funeral takes place at the Cathedral and indicates mourning and sadness, according to the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, the Cathedral’s dean.
“I don’t want to toll this bell any more. I don’t want to lose any more lives,” Hollerith previously said, following the tolling of bells 300 times at the Cathedral on December 15, 2020, in memory of the first 300,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19.
“I don’t want us to think this is normal, or that it is just the price we must pay for living in a free society. God forgive us if we find ourselves tolling this bell again at 400,000 lives lost,” he had added.
Hollerith encourages everyone to wear face coverings, practice social distancing. “Yes, we are tired from the confines and struggles of this pandemic, and yes, it’s been a long nine months. But now, more than ever, we have to protect each other because there has been far too much death. A vaccine is coming and we will get through these difficult days, but we will only succeed if we do it together,” he said in a December release.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the US surpassed 400,000 according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
At the time of the tolling at churches, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivered a speech in front of the Reflecting Pool, commemorating the victims of the pandemic.