RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY/WFXR) — Gov. Ralph Northam has declared Sunday to be a Day of Prayer and Remembrance in honor of Virginians who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Additionally, he has ordered Virginia flags to be lowered to half-staff on all state and local buildings from sunrise on Sunday, March 14, and remain at half-staff until sunset.

“Sunday marks one year since we first learned that a Virginian had died from COVID-19 in our Commonwealth,” said Northam.

The first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Commonwealth on March 7, 2020, and the first death was recorded on March 14, 2020.

As of Sunday, 10,019 people in Virginia have died from the virus. Sunday also marks the first day that total deaths in the Commonwealth have surpassed the 10,000 mark.

Places of worship around Virginia took the time to pray for those lives lost to the virus.

“I think this was a great glimmer of hope for us to have a Governor who recognizes the power of prayer. That was certainly something that I needed to hear. I think our community needs to hear right now. That’s where we get our hope from, that’s where we get our comfort, there’s no other way,” said Pastor Tom McCracken, founding pastor of CommUNITY Church.

A statement released by the governor’s office said the Executive Mansion in Richmond will be illuminated with an amber light from Sunday, March 14, until Sunday, March 21, to pay tribute to the thousands of Virginians lost to COVID-19.

“As we mourn, the First Lady and I are calling all Virginians to join us in prayer and remembrance of those who have been lost on Sunday. One year into this pandemic, we are seeing an ever-brighter light at the end of a long tunnel, and we can be hopeful that better days are ahead,” Northam continued.

Governor and First Lady Northam are inviting people across the Commonwealth to join in commemorating the lives lost by lighting their homes and businesses amber.

“While so much has changed over the past year, Virginians have continued to show strength and resilience, stepping up during this time of great need. We owe it to the victims of this virus and their loved ones to continue doing our part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 until this pandemic is behind us,” he said.

Del. Delores McQuinn also introduced a resolution during the 2021 General Assembly session designating March 14, and in each succeeding year, as Victims of COVID-19 Remembrance Day in Virginia. 

Read Northam’s proclamation here. A video message from Northam marking the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.