A real tribute to the coronavirus pandemic

The official death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise to staggering heights. In the United States, more than 570,000 lives have been lost due to the disease. Worldwide, the number exceeds 2,890,000. The daily number of cases and deaths is growing internationally, as the further spread of new and more contagious variants threatens to exceed last year’s decline.

Moreover, the actual number of deaths attributed to the disease and its consequences is in reality far higher. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found that the number of “excess deaths” in 2020, those deaths above expectations based on previous years’ averages, exceeded 503,000, 42 percent more than officially recorded coronavirus deaths.

COVID-19 patient Efrain Molina, in the middle, received a punch from nurse leader Edgar Ramirez at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Los Angeles, on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. (AP Photo / Jae C. Hong )

But even this mass mortality is only one reflection of the reality of the pandemic. Just as millions of people have died, tens of millions of them are suffering and continue to suffer from what in a rational society could be a preventable disease.

Among them are a multitude of children who have lost a parent to the coronavirus. An article in JAMA Pediatrics magazine, written by Rachel Kidman and her colleagues published Monday, reveals that “an estimated 37,000 to 43,000” children in the U.S. now suffer from parental grief as a result of the pandemic, three-quarters of whom are adolescents . In contrast, about 20,000 American children lost their parents as a result of the Vietnam War.

And as Kidman notes, these are just children who have lost a parent, not another relative or person who is their primary caregiver, nor have they looked at the impact of the many thousands of parents who have lost children or a wider circle of friends, co-workers and families knew those who died.