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COVID-19 memorial to be donated to Wisconsin Historical Society

Covid Anniversary Ribbons-03052021133526 (copy)

Numbered swatches of fabric, each representing a death from COVID-19 in the state, hang as part of a memorial display at Trinity Methodist Church in Madison, Wis. Thursday, March 4, 2021. 

A collection of almost 9,000 ribbons memorializing those killed by COVID-19 in Wisconsin will get a permanent spot in the Wisconsin Historical Society's collection. 

Individuals line up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at a community clinic held June 8 at Hiawatha Residence Hall in Wisconsin Dells.

The display of thousands of ribbons has been on display since this spring outside the Trinity United Methodist Church on Madison's Near West Side. The ribbons will be moved to the historical society's collection as part of an ongoing effort to document the pandemic's impact on the state, said Kara O'Keeffe, a spokesperson for the historical society.

"It is a substantial and vivid reminder that for many Wisconsinites, COVID has been a life-changing experience," O'Keeffe said of the memorial. 

The ribbons will be collected Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. outside the church at 1123 Vilas Ave., O'Keeffe said. 

Since the pandemic began, the historical society has collected items like masks, vaccine vials and personal journals to chronicle how people and institutions responded to the pandemic. 

To date, complications from COVID-19 have killed about 8,800 Wisconsinites, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

'Every aspect of our lives has been turned on its head': The COVID-19 pandemic one year on

A year into a once-in-a-century pandemic, Madison and Wisconsin continue to grapple with a virus that's killed thousands, destroyed businesses, upended school and changed nearly all aspects of everyday life.

It's been 12 months of grief, shutdowns, reopenings, protective measures, partisan fighting, lawsuits and loss. And now, hope. 

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“Truly every aspect of our lives has been turned on its head,” said Malia Jones, a UW-Madison infectious disease epidemiologist. 

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"If you would have told me last March that we'd be virtual for a year, I'd never, ever would have believed it."

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"We’re used to taking whatever comes through the door," said nurse Maria Hanson, who started journaling about the pandemic soon after treating the patient.

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"It’s a risk vs. reward thing and I risk my life to save others," said Brandon Jones, who always worried about bringing the virus home to his wife and two kids.

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“Usually a funeral is a major step in understanding that a life was lived and the person is now gone,” he said. “If families don’t get that, it’s just really hard.”

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Rev. Marcus Allen knew what bringing everyone together could do for their spiritual and mental health. But each time he considered reopening the church, COVID-19 cases surged.

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"I was getting my work done from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. every day," she said.

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“Reporting the death counts out day after day was draining,” she said. “It felt like I was announcing a funeral every day.”

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A year into a once-in-a-century pandemic, Madison and Wisconsin continue to grapple with a virus that's killed thousands, destroyed businesses…

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COVID-19 changed nearly everything about our world, even how we see it. Here are some of the State Journal's top images of the pandemic.

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