GLOUCESTER — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of a declaration of a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, members of Gloucester’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team gathered at a memorial art exhibit in memory of those lost to the disease on Cape Ann.
There have been 41 COVID-19 related deaths in the City of Gloucester since the pandemic began.
Several members of the COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team visited a temporary, outdoor art exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum green at 13 Poplar St. on Sunday. The exhibit, crafted in partnership by the City of Gloucester, Cape Ann Museum and nonprofit LuminArtz, opened officially to the public this week.
“Our city and the greater Cape Ann community has, along with the world, suffered great loss over the past year. Our COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team witnessed first-hand the ramifications of this disease on our community. This art installation comes at a time where we, on one hand, soberly recognize the one-year anniversary of this pandemic and on the other, are more hopeful than ever as people continue to receive their vaccinations,” Public Health Director Karin Carroll said. “I am tremendously proud of the countless hours and tireless work our team has done to help our community through this difficult time, and this exhibit is a well-timed opportunity for us all to collectively reflect and heal.”
“We deeply appreciate the Cape Ann Museum’s thoughtful, intentional creation of this memorial, and their kind gesture in inviting us to visit before its official opening,” COVID Planning Section Chief Carol McMahon said. “Each and every one of us felt a calling to do this work and help our community through this historic, devastating event. It is sobering, but comforting, to see those we lost here on Cape Ann remembered.”
The City’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team, first established in February 2020, has included approximately 20 contact tracers over the course of the pandemic. Members of the team conduct contact tracing, support those in isolation or quarantine, educate the public about the pandemic, support various city businesses and organizations as they close and reopen, communicate public health guidance and pandemic-related expectations in the City and have planned and prepared for vaccination clinics. The team is composed of longtime members of the Gloucester Health Department, local medical professionals and, over the summer and during remote learning, school nurses who stepped up to support the city’s response to the pandemic. The visit to the memorial was also the first time the city’s Contact Tracing Team has gathered together in-person.
Even before Gov. Charlie Baker issued a state of emergency regarding the pandemic in March, 2020, the Gloucester Health Department had been working for several weeks to educate residents about COVID-19, urging the community to wash their hands regularly and stay home if they felt ill.
Members of the city’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team who visited the site on Sunday include Assistant Emergency Management Director Carol McMahon, School Nurse Janet Dickinson, Clinical Supervisor Cindy Juncker, Dental Center Administrator Diana Edgar-Moloney, Nurse Sally Rich, School Nurse Kim Cameron, Team Administrator Carol Mondello, Nurse Cynthia Johnson, Nurse Eileen Matz, Nurse Supervisor Bridget Nelligan and Nurse Supervisor Szilvia Vanderberg.
School Nurse Leora Ulrich and Nurse Cally Tibert have also served as members of the city’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Team.
About the Cape Ann Museum COVID-19 Memorial
The Cape Ann Museum’s COVID-19 Memorial features a video installation by LuminArtz, the Cape Ann Cairns Memorial and the Gloucester Memorial Quilt. Visitors are required to make a free appointment to visit the exhibit, open today through Sunday, March 14 from 12:30-8 p.m. each day. To reserve a timed visit, click here.
Volunteers from Cape Ann Tree service built 55 cairns in memory of those on Cape Ann lost to the pandemic. The cairns, built out of Cape Ann granite, are located on the back side of the White Ellery House. Family and friends who wish to have a loved one personally acknowledged by one of the cairns may contact the Cape Ann Museum by emailing [email protected] or by phone at 978-283-0455, x125.
The memorial also features the Gloucester Memorial Quilt, which memorializes Gloucester residents who passed away due to the pandemic. The names of those lost were embroidered by Monograms by Diane and the squares were quilted together by Ingrid Schillebeeckx-Rice, a member of the Burlington Quilters Guild. Creation of the quilt was coordinated by the Cape Ann Museum and Council of Aging Board Member Roseanne Cody, at the request of Mayor Romeo Theken.
For more information about the memorial, visit the Cape Ann Museum’s website here.