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What one million dead COVID means for the future of the United States

What one million dead COVID means for the future of the United States

Laura Jackson feels the loss of her husband Charlie as if she is missing a part of herself. He died of COVID at the start of the pandemic, on May 17, 2020, a few weeks after the couple celebrated its 50th anniversary. Charlie was a veteran of the army who served in Iraq during the Desert Storm, and Laura returns to images of war and loss – to those who have lost a limb but still experience its phantom tingling, who thoughtlessly reach for a glass of water or try to get out of bed. before realizing that it was lost forever. Even now she still turns to find Charlie, wanting to share her joy or disappointment, only to have a push to remember that there is no place where he once was.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever overcome this,” says Jackson, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. ».

In the next few weeks, the U.S. will record one million confirmed deaths from COVID. This fee is probably understated because there are over 200,000 others excessive deaths what goes beyond typical mortality rates, caused in part the protracted effects of the disease and the tension of the pandemic. These huge losses shape our country – how we live, work and love, how we play, pray, learn and grow.

“We will see the dramatic effects of the pandemic on our society and how it has affected people for generations,” said Niesha Black, director of demographic research at the University of Alabama. “This is definitely a significant marker in how we will think that society is moving forward – it will be that anchor event.” COVID became the third cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.

These deaths have far-reaching consequences. The effect on children can be the longest. There are an estimated 243,000 children in the United States lost a guardian to COVID – including 194,000 who have lost one or both parents – and the psychological and economic consequences can negatively affect their education and career throughout life.

Author: Amanda Montañez; Source: COVID data trackerCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (data obtained on March 25, 2022)

Some communities have been particularly hard hit, older Americans and people of color are affected disproportionately. As of March 25, about three-quarters of the dead, or about 730,000, were people aged 65 and over. Otherwise, many of them were healthy and, according to statistics, would have lived for many more years, says Jennifer Dowd, a demographer from Oxford University. Their passage leaves a giant hole, she notes. “We probably don’t consider all the ways we rely on this age group to contribute to society,” from caring for grandchildren to ensuring stable family structures between generations, Daoud says. On averageevery death from COVID mourns nine people.

In the US there were 54.1 million people 65 and older in 2019, and since then the coronavirus has killed every 74 of them. These deaths are more concentrated in even older populations: more than a quarter occurred between the ages of 85 and older, and another quarter between the ages of 75 and 84.

The young people did not run away. About 240,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 died, nearly a quarter of the total number of victims. Among working-age Americans, “we are watching right now the highest mortality rate we have ever seen in the history of this business, – said J. Scott Davison, CEO of insurance company OneAmerica, in late December 2021. – The death rate has risen by 40 percent compared to before the pandemic. For comparison, he said, “a catastrophe every 200 years” would lead to a 10 percent increase, “so 40 percent is just unheard of.”

“People are dying in their prime,” said Andrew Stokes, an associate professor of global health at Boston University’s School of Public Health. “They are leaving their families. They were caretakers. If we think of abandoned children, single mothers and single fathers who no longer have a partner, it will create inequality that will be felt for years to come. ” Those who got lost took others to the doctor or checked friends or neighbors to make sure they were eating well and their blood pressure and sugar levels were fine. “What does it mean when those ties are broken?” Black asks. “Can you put these pieces back together?”

And some jobs have suffered from COVID more than others. Those who work in areas such as food and agriculture, in warehousing and manufacturing operations, as well as in transportation and construction, higher mortality rates were observed than in many other occupations. And the work at the nursing home was one of the deadliest works in the United States

“A lot of us demographers have just counted the losses, and it’s kind of creeping up on us – the scale of it all,” says Dowd. “We never thought it would continue.” According to her, such destruction has not occurred since World War II, when about 418,000 Americans died. “We will try to understand these long-term effects on health and mortality over time.”

Economic and emotional costs

Even when Laura Jackson was going through her grief, she was immediately faced with the financial consequences of her husband’s death. A small insurance policy barely covered his funeral, and then she was on her own. “It put my life in a quandary,” she says. “Just a few days later, watching how everything we had, everything he supported, just pretty much burned.”

After Charlie died, Jackson began receiving foreclosures and notifications of overdue bills. She was counting on the support of her three children, all 20 years old, until she was able to start a new job two months later. “It’s been a few months when we’ve been stretching every dollar trying to figure out how to balance things out,” she says. It took seven months before Jackson started receiving disability benefits on behalf of her husband, and she still doesn’t receive the full amount, she says.

“There is not much room for error in certain communities or economic groups,” says Black. “You don’t have insurance in terms of economic resources if you lost someone, and it was a contribution to the household. Thus, these failures may be longer-term, or their effect may be more detrimental. ”

Not all of these resources are part of the official economy. “For example, many low-income communities can’t go to the private market to buy kindergartens,” says Black. “So what will happen if there is no grandmother or mother nearby? Who can look after your child now? ” Loss of child care can affect parents working capacitythat complicates the provision of their families. More than one million women left the workforce during the pandemic, largely due to disruptions in child care.

The chart shows the total number of reported deaths from COVID in the US since February 2020, the total number has almost reached one million.

Author: Amanda Montañez; Source: COVID data trackerCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (data obtained on March 25, 2022)

A lot about caring for children, from grandparents who play integral role in children’s lives by providing emotional and financial support. More than 80 percent of Americans age 65 and older are grandparents, and about one in five provide regular child care, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center poll. In 2019, grandparents 4.5 million children are provided with housing, Colored grandparents are likely to help financially and financially. According to a survey conducted in 2012. more than half of Hispanic or Hispanic grandparents were said to have cared for children for five years or more, and African American grandparents were more likely to be the main caregivers of their grandchildren compared to other groups, making disproportionate losses from COVID in color communities even more.

After the death of a caregiver, children often have an increased risk of many problems. More than half children report significant mental health problems. Losses also put children at greater risk physical, emotional and sexual assaultpoverty, suicide, teenage pregnancy, and infectious and chronic diseases. The tutor can lose deteriorate feelings of abandonment, affect self-esteem and complicate stress management. Difficulties also apply to children’s education. Children who have lost their parents tend to see their school performance suffer, and this, in turn, harms the future income and stability of the family. “In social epidemiology, we see these effects as a long-term trauma to children – effects that manifest themselves throughout life,” says Stokes. “It’s a kind of direct path from education to economic viability and security or to more unsustainable work.”

For children, the elderly and the rest of society, experts expect a long-term deterioration in the trajectory of health and survival in the coming years. One of the reasons is the effect with “long COVID“, The onslaught of debilitating symptomsincluding fatigue, headache, pain, and shortness of breath that may last for months after the initial infection. The syndrome can also lead to increased mortality, people die months after exposure to the virus. Delays in receiving medical care caused by the compression of acute and prolonged patients with COVID during a pandemic could lead to increased mortality rates in people who have developed diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. The U.S. has already had a crisis of chronic disease, especially among people of working age, which is one of the reasons the coronavirus has wreaked havoc, Stokes adds. “There is an interaction with these chronic diseases, and this increases the risk of death from these diseases.”

Feeling forgotten

When Christine Urkisa’s father died of COVID at the age of 65 in June 2020, it changed her world. She quit her job to deal with her grief and trauma. The 40-year-old woman, who is originally from Arizona but lives in San Francisco, was also filled with anger over the fact that she saw the mismanagement of the pandemic by then-President Donald Trump and Arizona Gov. Doug Dusi. These complex sentiments led Urkis to form a group of survivors called “Distinctive COVID,” which now has 100,000 members nationwide. Marked by COVID’s intention to ensure that these losses are not forgotten by society. Members are pushing for COVID’s National Remembrance Day and a September 11-style commission to investigate the nation’s response to the pandemic.

“I want people to be able to see, in some sense, how many people are carrying the burden of this pandemic,” Urkisa said. Sometimes she imagines what it would be like if people showed visible reminders of the effects of the pandemic – if the faces of all those grieving the loss or suffering from long-term symptoms shone brightly, pink, purple or red. “I think it would help to understand how abnormal these times are and how many people are suffering,” Urkisa added.

These losses are especially severe because many people have not had the opportunity to personally say goodbye or mourn with others; the risk of infection was too dangerous. “We didn’t have to grieve as it would have been traditionally,” says Jackson, who is a member of Marked by COVID. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that survivors feel that large numbers of Americans are reluctant to acknowledge horrific victims or learn from them further. Instead, people and scientists to proclaim that they “finished with COVID”.

Urkisa does not want the country to sink into the mountains. Rather, she wants the United States to use emotion to intensify action. “This is a serious devastating event, and it gives us a chance to think about how we really want to recover,” she says. “We are a country that is so deeply divided. I believe we can begin to see each other as Americans and people if we can hold on to what we are going through at the moment. ”

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