COVID memorial event in Goshen postponed to spring

  • Jennifer Ritz Sullivan holds a photograph of she and her mother, Earla Dawn Dimitriadis who died of COVID. submitted photo

  • Jennifer Ritz Sullivan and her husband, Corcoran Ritz Sullivan, pose with Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, in Washington, D.C. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2021 12:52:33 PM

GOSHEN — A September COVID-19 memorial has been postponed due to safety concerns as cases are on the uptick in recent weeks.

“It does not feel like what we should be doing as a community right now,” said Jennifer Ritz Sullivan, who has been leading efforts to organize the event.

The COVID-19 memorial was supposed to take place on Sept. 12 at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen. However, Ritz Sullivan said that she and Three Sisters Sanctuary decided to postpone the event until next spring, with the delta variant being a major reason behind the decision.

“We’re going to wait until the time is right,” she said.

Ritz Sullivan lost her mother, Earla Dawn Dimitriadis, to COVID-19 and is an active member of Marked By COVID, a group formed during the pandemic to center on the concerns of those affected by the disease. Ritz Sullivan is the justice leader for Marked by COVID in the commonwealth.

“We had 200 participants in lobby days,” Ritz Sullivan said.

She described the experience as “an emotional roller coaster,” and noted that she met many people from the Marked By COVID community for the first time in person.

The group had a series of lobbying days in Washington, D.C., at the end of July, and Ritz Sullivan and her husband were the lobbyists for Massachusetts. The group is lobbying for the passage of a resolution in the House of Representatives, H.Res.174, that expresses support for the creation of a national COVID–19 Victims and Survivors Memorial Day. The resolution has 51 cosponsors, including every member of the Massachusetts delegation in the House.

A resolution in the Senate based on the House resolution was introduced this week by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, Sen. Ed Markey, D-MA and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM.

In her lobbying in D.C., Ritz Sullivan met with Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, and Rep. Cori Bush, D-Missouri, among others. Marked By COVID also lobbied in favor of an eviction moratorium.

“Low-income communities were disproportionally affected by the pandemic,” Ritz Sullivan said.

And she said that so many people with longhaul COVID have been unable to work.

Ritz Sullivan said that she wants people to get vaccinated. “Please get vaccinated,” she said.

However, she also said that the narrative that the pandemic is a pandemic of the unvaccinated is a problematic one, noting that babies and the immunocompromised cannot get vaccinated.

Additionally, she said that she doesn’t support shaming people into getting vaccinated, as she said the Trump administration lulled people into a false sense of security. Instead, she said that she would like to see continuing education about the vaccine.

Ritz Sullivan also said that with the virus being able to be spread among vaccinated people “we need to continue with the masking efforts.”

“We need to do more than one thing to stop this,” she said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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