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384 Chairs Were Displayed at the State House to Honor the More than 3,840 Lives Taken by COVID-19 in South Carolina

Survivors Held Senator Lindsay Graham Accountable for His Role in Failing to Stop the Pandemic and Pushing Through the Nomination of a Supreme Court Justice Likely to Take Away Healthcare Coverage from COVID Survivors

COLUMBIA, S.C. – This morning, South Carolina members of COVID Survivors for Change, the non-partisan grassroots survivor network, together with partners including End Coronavirus SC, National Action Network, Empower SC, and Building Better Communities, joined local faith leaders to honor the more than 3,840 lives taken by COVID-19 in South Carolina. Together, they held elected officials accountable, particularly calling out Sen. Graham for his role in continuing the pandemic and forcing the nomination of a Supreme Court justice likely to strip healthcare away from COVID-19 survivors.
384 empty chairs were spread in front of the statehouse, representing the more than 3,840 lives taken by the pandemic in South Carolina and highlighting the pandemic’s devastating reach in the Palmetto State. Photos from the event are available here. For the safety of all participants, the audience watched the event online at

“When my husband was fighting for his life, President Trump was hosting super spreader events and comparing COVID to the flu,” said Summer Barrios, Seneca-based member of COVID Survivors for Change whose husband, Robert, spent 81 days in the hospital with COVID-19 and now suffers from longhauler symptoms. “Weeks after my husband could finally come home, Senator Graham pushed through a Supreme Court Justice who will very likely take away healthcare for people like my daughter and husband, who both now have pre-existing conditions. I know that Robert was brave when President Trump and Senator Graham were not. We deserve so much better.”

During the event, South Carolina COVID Survivors for Change members demanded a national pandemic response plan as they reflected on how their lives have been changed by COVID-19. On the organization’s website, survivors can share their stories and join the movement to help put an end to this preventable crisis.

“I might not have ever known I had it if I hadn’t gotten tested,” said Amy Johnson Ely, Columbia-based member of COVID Survivors for Change who contracted the virus in June even after taking precautions. “I was asymptomatic for the first 3 weeks after the test. I thought I was already trying so much harder than others to try not to get this thing. I was doing everything I thought I should do, and I still got it.”

To date, more than 229,000 Americans have died due to COVID-19, and more than 9 million have contracted the virus.

About COVID Survivors for Change

COVID Survivors for Change is a national, non-partisan movement bringing together Americans who have lost a loved one to COVID-19, as well as those who have survived the virus and those whose lives have been dramatically altered by the pandemic. As part of COVID Survivors for Change, Americans are mobilizing to make sure that communities have the funding, resources and leadership in place to address future public health emergencies. Survivors will also find community and healing in meeting other people whose lives have been forever changed by the pandemic. For more information, please visit: