Iowa newsrooms, USA TODAY Network join to tell the stories of Iowans lost to COVID-19 with ‘Iowa Mourns' project

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In an unprecedented partnership, nine newsrooms across Lee Enterprises and the USA TODAY Network in Iowa have joined forces to publish a collaborative project called “Iowa Mourns,” which identifies and tells the stories of Iowans who died from COVID-19.

In addition to pinpointing more than 200 Iowans who passed due to the pandemic, “Iowa Mourns” includes about 60 stories of friends, colleagues and neighbors Iowans have lost. However, instead of focusing on diagnosis, these remembrances spotlight their lives: who they were, what they did and how they lived.

“The (Des Moines) Register is collecting stories of Iowans who passed from COVID-19 to ensure their lives are remembered — now and forever,” Courtney Crowder, the Des Moines Register’s Iowa columnist, wrote in a column introducing the project. “In writing about them, we hope to concentrate on the light of their lives instead of the darkness of their death. We hope to tell the whole story of them, not dwell just on the final moments.”

In gathering these stories and names, the project has created a community of those impacted by loss, Crowder said.

“It was incredibly moving to see journalists across Iowa work together to highlight the people in our towns and cities who are no longer with us due to COVID-19,” Crowder said. “The work we’ve done here will make sure that no one forgets how this pandemic has permanently changed the face of our state.”

John Humenik, Lee Enterprises’ vice president of news and chief content officer, said the combined effort of the two companies will allow these engaging stories to reach readers throughout Iowa and beyond.

“Nothing is more local than telling the stories of people and their lives. This level of collaboration between our companies ensures these important stories will be told and told well,” Humenik said.

The “Iowa Mourns” was available in print and e-edition on Oct. 11. More in-depth profiles will be featured in digital format. Participating news organizations from Lee Enterprises include:

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