Cytokine storm is suggested as one of the major pathological characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 infection, although the mechanism for initiation of a hyper-inflammatory response, and multi-organ damage from viral infection is poorly understood. In this virus-cell interaction study, we observed that SARS-CoV-2 infection or viral spike protein expression alone inhibited angiotensin converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) receptor protein expression. The spike protein promoted an angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1) mediated signaling cascade, induced the transcriptional regulatory molecules NF-κB and AP-1/c-Fos via MAPK activation, and increased IL-6 release. SARS-CoV-2 infected patient sera contained elevated levels of IL-6 and soluble IL-6R. Up-regulated AT1 receptor signaling also influenced the release of extracellular soluble IL-6R by the induction of the ADAM-17 protease. Use of the AT1 receptor antagonist, Candesartan cilexetil, resulted in down-regulation of IL-6/soluble IL-6R release in spike expressing cells. Phosphorylation of STAT3 at the Tyr705 residue plays an important role as a transcriptional inducer for SOCS3 and MCP-1 expression. Further study indicated that inhibition of STAT3 Tyr705 phosphorylation in SARS-CoV-2 infected and viral spike protein expressing epithelial cells did not induce SOCS3 and MCP-1 expression. Introduction of culture supernatant from SARS-CoV-2 spike expressing cells on a model human liver endothelial Cell line (TMNK-1), where transmembrane IL-6R is poorly expressed, resulted in the induction of STAT3 Tyr705 phosphorylation as well as MCP-1 expression. In conclusion, our results indicated that the presence of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in epithelial cells promotes IL-6 trans-signaling by activation of the AT1 axis to initiate coordination of a hyper-inflammatory response.