'This was preventable,' Pelosi says at memorial in DC for coronavirus victims

Pelosi spoke in front of 20,000 flags that had been planted on the National Mall in remembrance of the more than 200,000 lives lost to the virus.
Image: American flags representing 200,000 lives lost due to coronavirus are placed on National Mall in Washington
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stands among 20,000 American flags representing the 200,000 lives lost in the United States in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the National Mall in Washington, U.S., September 22, 2020.Joshua Roberts / Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday attended a memorial for the 200,000 American lives lost to the coronavirus, saying, "It's just incomprehensible, the situation we find ourselves in."

"This was preventable. Not all of it, but much of it," Pelosi said before a field of 20,000 American flags on the National Mall — one for every 10 lives lost to Covid-19 so far this year.

The memorial in front of the Washington Monument was put together by a group of friends in the Washington, D.C., area who'd raised money online to commemorate the grim milestone.

About two dozen volunteers began planting the flags on Monday morning, and a similar number of passersby joined into help, organizers said.

Pelosi said the field of flags gives "some perspective on the number of lives that have been lost."

"These flags are indicative not only of the lives lost, but of the families left behind and suffering," Pelosi said.

The California Democrat, who has been a leading critic of the Trump administration's response to the pandemic, vowed last week to keep the House in session until lawmakers reach a deal on Covid-19 relief. She said Tuesday that fewer lives could be lost going forward if people "embrace science over politics."

"If we embrace it, we can save lives," Pelosi said, adding, "It's time for us to crush the virus."

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com.