The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Thursday that it would host a nationwide memorial honoring those who have died from the coronavirus the day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office.
The committee said that cities and towns around the country will be invited to light up their buildings and ring church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 19 in a "national moment of unity and remembrance." A ceremony will also be held at the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool in Washington.
"The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey," said Pili Tobar, a spokesperson for the inaugural committee.
"However, in the midst of a pandemic — when so many Americans are grieving the loss of family, friends and neighbors — it is important that we honor those who have died, reflect on what has been one of the more challenging periods in the nation's history, and renew our commitment to coming together to end the pandemic and rebuild our nation."
The memorial will offer a stark contrast to President Donald Trump's leadership during the pandemic. Trump was frequently criticized for lacking empathy during the Covid-19 crisis, failing to meet with families who lost loved ones or survivors of Covid-19, as presidents often do during a time of national crisis.
More than 340,000 people have died in the U.S. from the coronavirus, and more than 19.6 million have been diagnosed with Covid-19.