It has been nearly 2 ½ years since the start of the pandemic, the beginning of a lot of loss. Sunday, the first ever city-wide COVID-19 vigil gave some people a sense of hope.
"Many people lost their jobs, many people experienced different types of losses throughout this moment in time, and we just wanted to bring everyone together to have a safe space to kind of mourn and grieve," said Marlene Zahran with Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition.
The Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition put on the vigil at Milwaukee's Washington Park. It was a chance for people to reflect on the impact COVID-19 has had.
"It just means that we can come out and celebrate together just moving forward from where we started with COVID," said Regina Miller with Blessed Deliverance Missionary Baptist Church.
Milwaukee community COVID-19 vigil at Washington Park
The vigil meant a lot to Sara Stock. She lost her dad, Jim, to COVID-19 in January.
"I miss him every day, and I just want people to realize this is so serious," she said.
Stock said being around people who have had a similar experience was helpful in her healing process. She is grateful for the community support.
"If I was the only person here today, I’d be okay with it because I know why I’m here," said Stock.
Roughly 15,000 Wisconsinites, including Jim, have died from COVID-19.
Sara Stock with father, Jim
"Fifteen-thousand – that's the size of a good size town in the state of Wisconsin," Gov. Tony Evers said.
The BA.5 variant shows no signs of slowing down, and health officials say it is the most contagious to date. With resources, solidarity and the community's resilience – hope is one thing not lost.
"Remembering what happened but also looking forward to what is to come," said Zahran.