'Each pair is a life': Iowa group's shoe display shows how many have died from COVID-19 there

Some of the shoes were worn by victims of the virus.


An Iowa group is helping people visualize the lives lost due to the coronavirus.

Each Pair Iowa partnered with Des Moines Public Schools to set up the display at Central Academy.

"Numbers are cold. But this is the reality. Each pair is a life," said Valerie Cohen, with Each Pair Iowa.

She said she wishes her memorial would stop growing, because each pair represents an Iowan who has died of COVID-19.

Some of the shoes were worn by the victims of the virus.

"Each pair is a daughter, a song, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a best friend," Cohen said.

The organization hopes these symbolic shoes inspire Iowans to wear masks in public and do everything they can to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The group is also collecting school safety supplies to provide Des Moines teachers with hand sanitizer and masks.

With COVID-19 cases still surging in Iowa, Cohen doesn't think it's safe for a district the size of Des Moines to go back to class yet.

Cohen's daughter, Zoey, is a student at Roosevelt High School, a school with a student population of more than 2,000 students during the 2019-2020 school year.

"There are always crowded classrooms, crowded buses, crowded hallways, there's no way to divide the school enough so we can stay safe," Cohen said.

After the memorial ended its display Saturday, each pair was donated to someone in need.

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