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Dutchtown Resident Memorializes St. Louisans Lost To COVID-19

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St. Louis COVID Memorial website
A collage of some St. Louis-area residents Jessica Murray wrote about on the website she created to highlight the lives of people who died of COVID-19.

About 1,407 people in the bi-state area have died of COVID-19 so far. That number — alongside the total of 1,615 Missouri residents lost to the disease — was not lost on Jessica Murray. For the past 12 weeks, she’s devoted her time to building and maintaining a website to remember them and their lives.

“It’s important to tell their stories and to have a visual representation of their faces so that they may never become ‘just numbers’ in this tragic deadly epidemic,” she writes at stlouiscovidmemorial.com.

The St. Louis COVID Memorial page consists of 93 entries so far. Murray researches obituaries, listens to family accounts and seeks out additional information online to craft each story. Each post takes about an hour to put together.

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Dutchtown resident Jessica Murray is the creator of the St. Louis COVID Memorial website.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Murray joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about what she’s learned about St. Louisans through the work she’s done to memorialize their lives. Through this initiative, she’s often become familiar with intricate details of people in the region.

“I can't tell you how many people I wish that I could just have dinner with. And I'm sure that their relatives and survivors must be thinking the same thing, because we are losing some amazing people,” Murray said.

Murray got the idea to start a memorial site for St. Louisans after coming across one that is dedicated to New Yorkers lost to the virus. It’s run by the Columbia Journalism School’s Stabile Center, Columbia Journalism Investigations and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.

Murray, on the other hand, only has her three pet cockatoos — Boo, Arthur and Misha — by her side.

“It would be my ideal goal to have an institution, like a local school of journalism or a local historical nonprofit, take this over. Because people dying of COVID-19 is not going to just magically go away this summer or this fall. This is a long-term project.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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