OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma is working to remember those who died during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, organizers set up a sunrise remembrance vigil on the steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

“We have to continue to try to live and love the people we have here and remember those we lost,” said Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City.

In all, almost 18,000 Oklahomans died from COVID-19, which was first detected in Oklahoma in March 2020.

Rosino’s family is just one of those impacted by the virus.

Rosino’s son, Gregory, died from COVID-19 on July 4, 2021 at the age of 34.

Monday, March 6 would have been his 36th birthday.

“We don’t get to blow candles on our birthdays anymore and we don’t get to open presents up anymore,” said Rosino. “There’s empty seats at our tables.”

Sen. Paul Rosino encouraged anyone who has lost a friend or family member to join in the early morning vigil.

“Oklahomans are suffering through it every day,” said Rosino. “We’ve lost so many people to this, and it’s horrible.”