National Cathedral to toll funeral bell to mark 1 million COVID-19 deaths in US

Posted May 9, 2022

[Episcopal News Service] Washington National Cathedral will hold a special prayer service at 6 p.m. Eastern May 9 to memorialize 1 million recorded deaths from COVID-19 in the United States, including a tolling of the cathedral’s funeral bell.

The service will be livestreamed on the cathedral’s YouTube channel. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, the cathedral has scheduled a bell tolling every time another 100,000 Americans have died after contracting the coronavirus. At the services, the funeral bell is tolled once for every 1,000. It will sound 1,000 times at the May 9 event, followed by “one additional toll as a reminder of the ongoing dangers presented by the virus,” the cathedral said in a news release.

The cathedral said this will be the final time that the bell is to be tolled to memorialize COVID-19 victims. The online service also will include a brief performance by the Cathedral Choristers.

Daily new cases and deaths from COVID-19 have greatly diminished since their winter peaks, though the coronavirus continues to spread. In the past month, the number of cases has begun to rise again in parts of the United States, particularly in the Northeast, the Upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.

National Cathedral, the seat of the Diocese of Washington in the nation’s capital, continues to memorialize COVID-19 victims by inviting survivors to submit the names of loved ones who have died. The latest submissions will be read during virtual prayer services each week.