Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Thursday, March 11 will mark the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 for Hattiesburg, Forrest County and for the State of Mississippi. As a date of remembrance, the City of Hattiesburg will host a series of events and displays to remember the Pine Belt lives lost due to COVID-19 and to honor those on the frontlines who continue to fight this disease through testing, treatment and vaccination.
At 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 11 at Town Square Park, Mayor Toby Barker will be joined by local pastors, health leadership and local government officials who will speak to the tragic loss of so many, the grief experienced, as well as the resiliency and hope for the days ahead.
“One of the tragedies of this pandemic is how accustomed we grew to hearing numbers on a daily basis: of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. However, for all of us at some point, those numbers hit close to home,” said Barker. “We all know someone who fell victim to this disease, and in many cases, we all know something who never came home from the hospital. Each person had a name, a family – a story. It is important that we take this time – one year later – to remember those lives, their families and the impact they had on our community.”
In the park, two hundred and twenty plus empty chairs with luminaries will be lined up on the lawn in front of the stage. Each one will stand for a life in Forrest and Lamar Counties lost to COVID-19. The ceremony will be streamed live via Facebook.
Additional events/display include:
March 12 – Paint Hattiesburg Red Day
In the spirit of unity, determination, hope and faith throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Hattiesburg is asking all residents to display the color red on their homes with ribbons or by wearing the color red to honor all of our frontline workers in healthcare and beyond.
March 12 – Mask & Hand Sanitizer Distribution
9 a.m. until 11 a.m., at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center
Thanks to the generosity of a local business, more than 500 gallons of hand sanitizer were donated for use by churches, small businesses, nonprofits and restaurants to help continue efforts to comply with CDC guidelines.
If a local organization/church/business is in need of sanitizer, it can be picked up at Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Friday, March 12. Masks can also be picked up (as supplies last).
March 11 – A Year in Pictures
Thanks to the generosity of CR Properties, a display of photos will hang in the windows of Forrest Tower on Forrest Street beginning March 11. The display will include photos from the initial days of the first confirmed case of coronavirus, testing & vaccine announcements, as well as city progress and events that took place amid the pandemic.
This display will be up on March 11 and stay up through the end of the month. A virtual gallery will also be available at hattiesburgms.com/oneyearlater for an expanded look beyond the windows.
Barker added, “This past year has been hard for everyone. We’ve all collectively lost something or someone due to this unseen enemy. I encourage all our residents to take time this week to reflect on what we’ve been through, to refocus and commit to efforts that can end this pandemic and to look toward better days ahead.”