Twenty thousand flags placed on National Mall to memorialize Covid-19 deaths in the US

A memorial of flags for those who have died as a result of of Covid-19 on the National Mall. By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

(CNN) -- Twenty thousand American flags have been placed on the National Mall as part of a memorial paying tribute to the more than 200,000 people nationwide who have died from the coronavirus.

The installation, called a Covid Memorial Project, was organized by a group of friends in the Washington DC area who raised money online. They then gathered volunteers to place the flags on the mall on Tuesday.

Each of the 20,000 flags represents 10 American lives that have been lost to the virus this year, according to the group's GoFundMe page.

"This extreme loss of life is staggering -- but was not inevitable: the President's poor handling of the virus response has led to tens of thousands of excess deaths," organizers wrote on the fundraising site.

"And this administration has done nothing to memorialize this stunning number of lives lost -- instead choosing to downplay, minimize, and ignore whenever possible. No flags lowered, no service held, no day of mourning declared -- so the COVID Memorial Project seeks to simply say: these lives are more than a statistic -- they were family, friends, neighbors."

The devastating death toll comes ahead of what experts caution could be a complicated flu season. In the next three months, another 150,000 people could lose their lives from Covid-19, according to a projection by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

"This was preventable," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday while speaking at the memorial. "Not all of it, but much of it."

During the event, the California representative also made a political case for supporting Democrats ahead of the November election.

"It is a time for us to crush the virus, not crush the Affordable Care Act," she said. "It's a time for us to vote health, not ignore the needs of the American people."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar echoed Pelosi in a tweet sharing a photo of the display.

"This is a reminder of why we need new leadership in the White House," she wrote.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also took time to walk by the flags Tuesday, sharing a picture with her followers on Twitter.

"My thoughts are with the families of the over 200,000 people we've lost," she wrote. "May their memories be a blessing."

The flags remained in place until Wednesday evening, according to the memorial organizers.

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