Oklahoma Watch
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
First Watch

Help Build a Digital Wall of Remembrance

The ultimate cost of COVID-19 in human life may very well be incalculable, but Oklahoma Watch is endeavoring to remember.

For weeks, investigative reporter Trevor Brown has used media obituaries and other public resources to create a database of Oklahomans who died of the coronavirus. Soon we will publish that information, including a brief description of that person’s life, a photograph (if available), and a link to a news story or their obituary.

Only those whose families have identified them as having died of COVID-19 are included.

From the National Mall to a church field in Tulsa, coronavirus memorials have sprouted. To our knowledge, there is no list or database of the Oklahomans lost in the pandemic.

As of Monday, the Oklahoma Department of Health listed 10,388 COVID-19 deaths. Our list currently includes 200 lives. To provide a clearer picture of the pandemic’s impact we will need your help.

Watch this space and oklahomawatch.org for the release of this Oklahoma COVID-19 memorial. Using a data visualization program called Flourish, Trevor has transformed the data into a digital wall of those we have lost that will be shareable with other Oklahoma media outlets.

Upon publication, there will be thousands of missing names. The digital memorial will be accompanied by a survey to collect information. You can also email us at editor@oklahomawatch.org to tell us about family, friends and loved ones lost and help account for the pandemic’s toll.

This initiative was inspired by a collaboration by Iowa media outlets. We are also working with an OU journalism class to produce stories about some victims and broader looks on the COVID-19 impact.

“We believe this is important to help build a historical picture of the victims, help loved ones share who they were and what they meant to those they left behind,” Trevor Brown said, “and to show the cost of the pandemic.”

— Mike Sherman, Executive Editor

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Around the web

  • Transgender Athletes Ban Passes State House: The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation that would prevent “male-bodied athletes” from participating in female sports at K-12 schools, colleges and universities. The bill advances to the Senate with an amendment that requires parents to sign an affidavit “acknowledging the biological sex of the student at birth” in order for a child to participate in youth sports.” The NCAA issued a warning last week that implied it could prohibit future championships in Oklahoma if the legislation becomes law. [The Oklahoman
  • ‘Terror Perpetrated By People Like Timothy McVeigh Is Still With Us’: “This memorial is a monument to a community that will not allow hate and division to win,” U.S. Attorney General Marrick Garland said Monday during a speech commemorating the 26th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people including 19 children. [Wall Street Journal]

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During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.

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