Chicago family among those calling for national COVID-19 Memorial Day

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A national movement is underway for COVID survivors, activists and their loved ones to create a permanent COVID Memorial Day.

Dozens of them, including a Chicago family, will meet with lawmakers next week during a three-day event. They want to make sure a pandemic like this will never happen again.

Paula Vargas of Albany Park was a woman of faith, and always with family. She died of COVID-19 in November.

"Living without her is difficult. She was the pillar of our family. So we are left to make the best of things," said her daughter, Luz Maria Vargas.

Vargas had three children and three grandchildren. Now, one of her daughters is on a mission.

"Every single person we lost to COVID deserves their name to be recognized and acknowledged because they were human beings," her daughter said.

Luz Maria Vargas is part of a nationwide, grassroots group called "Marked by COVID." Starting Monday, she and 120 others will meet with lawmakers. They want a permanent Memorial Day - the first Monday in March - to remember those who died and COVID survivors. They also want an independent nonpartisan commission to study the pandemic.

"For me, it is advocacy...it is speaking on behalf of my mother," she said.

Luz plans to meet virtually with Illinois' senators and other representatives.

In January, Chicago paid tribute to the lives lost at iconic landmarks. Luz wants a permanent memorial in Chicago.

She made a floral tribute to her mom on March 1 at Buckingham Fountain, but says her mom and other victims deserve more.

"I hope she's proud and she knows that we love her and we love her dearly, and will continue to hold her name high," she said.
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