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Capitol Bells Ring To Remember Utahns Who Died From COVID-19

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah State Capitol bells tolled in an emotional tribute to honor the Utahns who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

Kortnie Aldous and her family were there to listen as the bells rang 15 times Tuesday afternoon — once for every 100 lives lost.

“I’m glad that they’re doing this for all the Utahns that we lost,” she said.

Her father, Ken Kirkman, was 74 years old when he died this past May.

He was one of Utah’s early victims of COVID-19.

“He was more than a number,” said Aldous. “This is really neat. This is really special, and my family is really grateful that the state has done this.”

What the state did Tuesday afternoon was ring the bell on top of the Capitol 15 times to honor and remember the 1,507 Utahns who had died from COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

Kirkman’s family said they had to be here.

“It’s a war. It’s a war we’ve been fighting, and we have these victims,” said Karen Kirkman, Ken Kirkman’s widow.

She also tested positive for the virus and was hospitalized at the same time as her husband.

It’s also where she said goodbye to him.

“I remember laying in the hospital and thinking, watching the news and thinking, ‘Oh please I hope it doesn’t go to 60,” she said.

Ken Kirkman was among the first 60 people who died in Utah from the virus.

Remembering The Utahns We’ve Lost: Ken Kirkman

Now, there are over 1,500 Utahns who have lost their lives to the virus.

“It’s just so, so sad,” said Karen Kirkman.

For all the emotions the Kirkmans felt Tuesday, one of them is joy that Ken Kirkman, and all those who died because of the virus, are still being remembered.

The order to ring the Capitol bells came from Gov. Spencer Cox.

“We will never forget the heavy toll this deadly virus has taken in this state and we pray for comfort and peace to the families and friends left behind,” Cox said.

“I know other people and families feel the same way I do about those they lost,” said Aldous. “So, this is a very special thing they’re doing. I’m grateful.”


Coronavirus Resources

Have you or a family member been affected by coronavirus issues in Utah? KSL wants to hear from you. Contact KSL by emailing social@ksl.com.

What is COVID-19? Here’s What You Need To Know To Stay Healthy

The latest coronavirus stories from KSL can be found here.

Your Life Your Health: How parents can prepare their home, children against coronavirus.

How do I prevent it?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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