Loved Ones, Not Numbers candlelight COVID-19 vigil at GA Capitol

by Robin Kemp

People from Clayton County and all over Georgia turned out Aug. 27 for the “Loved Ones, Not Numbers” ceremony and candlelight march to the Georgia Capitol in downtown Atlanta. The group Georgia’s Coalition to Save Lives zip-tied one card for each person who has died of COVID-19 in Georgia to a fence outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Rep. Kim Schofield (D-60), who serves on the Georgia House’s Health and Human Services Committee and has experience as a lupus research specialist with Emory Hospital School of Medicine and workplace health trainer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said, “Our loved ones have names. They are our mothers, fathers, grandparents, daughters, sons, cousins, co-workers, students and teachers whose lives were taken way too soon. Enough is enough. We must put people over politics.”

George McKibben, 76

George McKibben was a retired educator who helped integrate Clayton County Public Schools. He died of COVID-19 on April 7.

Speaking to WSB-TV’s Steve Gelbach, Schofield laid the blame for the more than 5,300 COVID-19 deaths at the feet of Gov. Brian Kemp.

“Loved Ones, Not Numbers is about the extension of this embracing of the beginning of healing,” Schofield said. “But Governor Kemp, make no mistake: this healing is caused by the irresponsible behavior and lack of decisions that have cost people their lives.”

Retired educator George McKibben was the first known COVID-19 victim in Clayton County. (Courtesy Photo: Riley Bunch/CNHI NEWS)

State Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) said, “Today we stand at 5,311 (victims). They are loved ones, not numbers. So we stand here tonight to say to the families that we feel your pain, we feel your hurt, and we want you to know that we are here with you. We are here with you. To all the 5,311 families in the state of Georgia, please know that we hear you, we feel your pain, we feel your hurt, and we know it’s not easy. It’s not easy. Death is never easy. It’s never easy. Definitely when it’s one of your loved ones.

“But what we want the governor to know,” she continued, “is that these are our sisters, our brothers. They’re mothers, they’re fathers, they’re uncles, they’re aunties. They’re someone’s loved one. And they are not a number. We need for him to understand that they’re our loved ones.”

Dian Phipps, 32

Dian Phipps, who lived in Lithia Springs, was a TSA screener at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and a musician. He died of COVID-19 on April 13.

Loved Ones, Not Numbers, like The Clayton Crescent, is collecting names of people who died of COVID-19. Here is a video from their website.

We invite loved ones to submit the names of Clayton County residents who have died of COVID-19 to add to our memorial wall, as well. E-mail KempWrites@gmail.com.

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