NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio — A COVID-19 memorial will spend the next six months traveling all across Tuscarawas County, as a way to honor those who died during the pandemic.
Panels on the mural highlight moments from the pandemic and shine a spotlight on the health care providers and first responders.
Since the pandemic began, the World Health Organization reports more than 4.2 million people died from COVID-19, with about 600,000 of those occurring in the United States.
In Tuscarawas County, that number sits at more than 250 people, out of a population of more than 90,000. But as Tracie Kenney explains, don’t lump her husband as just another number.
“I know there’s a lot of people who lost someone, but there’s a lot of people who didn’t,” she explains. “And I don't think they truly know what we all went through, those who lost someone to COVID-19. They had names, they were people, they had family and they’re more than a number. So much more.”
Kenney created the idea of a mural after her husband died from COVID-19 in November 2020, while artists Carole Hunt and Lynn Fraelich gave it life.
“I don’t think they could’ve done a better job,” Kenney smiled.
Big Brothers Big Sisters, New Towne Mall, Tracie Kenney, Tuscarawas Arts Partnership and the Tuscarawas County Health Department commissioned the mural.
Fraelich’s husband built the boards for the murals, while Hunt and Fraelich spent hours trying to come up with a way to honor those who died during the pandemic.
“It’s kind of like I’m taking you through my journey, but I’m pretty sure we were all on the same journey,” Hunt said.
When she’s not painting, Hunt works as a Registered Nurse at a nearby nursing center, and vividly remembers the low’s from the past year and a half.
“It was all hands on deck and we didn’t have enough hands,” she said. “We lost 14 people in the course of a month. Since then, we’ve lost more. They were my friends and they were locked in their room for a year. And it didn’t help anything. And I’m mad about it.”
On Saturday, Aug. 14, the mural will formally be unveiled at New Towne Mall’s Community Day, which runs from 12:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M.
The mural will then go on tour and can be viewed at the following locations:
August 13 - September 10: New Towne Mall 400 Mill Ave SE, New Philadelphia, OH 44663
September 10 - October 6: ARTSNCT 304 S College St, Newcomerstown, OH 43832
October 6 - November 5: Kent State Tuscarawas Performing Arts Center 330 University Dr NE, New Philadelphia, OH 44663
November 5 - December 3: Mineral City Public Library 8503 South High Street, Mineral City, OH 44656
December 3 - January 4: Tuscarawas County Commissioners building 125 E High Ave, New Philadelphia, OH 44663
After its tour, the mural will be placed on permanent display on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at the Tuscarawas County Health Department, located at 897 E Iron Ave. Dover, OH 44622.
“The Tuscarawas County Health Department is thankful to assist with this creative endeavor to honor the memories of those who passed away due to COVID-19; to pay tribute to all of the first responders, health and public health workers who have spent countless hours to support and provide care to our community during the Pandemic; and to acknowledge the challenges placed upon our community during this time in our history,” said Jennifer Demuth, Director of Health Promotion & Community Relations at the Tuscarawas County Health Department, in a statement.
“They say it’s going to be over, but it’s not going to be over for everybody,” Kenney added.