COVID: Recording US statistics when reaching 1 million

On the deadliest day of a terrifying week in April 2020, COVID claimed the lives of 816 people in New York City alone. Lost in the storm of pandemic data that has been swirling since then is the fact that 43-year-old Fernando Morales is one of them.

Two years and nearly 1 million deaths later, his brother, Adam Almonte, fingered Morales’ bass guitar and pictured him playing tunes. In a park overlooking the Hudson River, he recalls the days when he and Morales threw baseball.

“When he passed away, it was like I lost a brother, a parent and a friend at the same time,” said Almonte, 16 years younger than Morales, about his love of books and games. electronics and wrestling, while also working for the city that handles teachers’ pensions.

If the loss of one person leaves such a lasting void, consider all that is lost along with the deaths of 1 million people.

In the next few weeks, the number of Americans infected with the coronavirus will likely pass an unimaginable milestone.

The pandemic has left an estimated 194,000 children in the US without a parent. It has deprived community leaders, teachers, and caregivers. It robbed us of our expertise and tenacity, humor, and devotion.

Through wave after wave, the virus has compiled a brutal chronology of loss – one by one.

When it started, the threat remained unnoticed. In February 2020, a strange respiratory illness began to spread through a nursing home outside of Seattle, the Kirkland Life Care Center.

Attorney Neil, 84, was a short-term patient there, recovering from an infection. When he died of COVID-19 on March 8, the US toll was 30.

The lawyer, born on a Mississippi farm to parents whose mixed-race heritage exposed them to harsh discrimination, was the family’s first college graduate.

Trained as a chemist, he has lived and worked in Belgium for more than two decades. Foreign colleagues know him for his devotion to baseball coaching and for his rich baritone voice.

After the Attorney – known to his family as “Moose” – and his wife retire to Bellevue, Washington, he and other family members will tour the couples at their wedding in a band dubbed the Moose-Tones.

Last October, when one of his nieces got married, Moose-Tones moved on without him.

“He’s just going to be beaming because, you know, that’s the most important thing in the world for him at the end of his life, to be surrounded by family,” said his son David Attorney.


In late spring 2020, the pandemic appeared to be loosening its grip, until governors moved to reopen their states and the death toll rose again.

Luis Alfonso Bay Montgomery worked during the early months of the pandemic, driving a tractor through fields of lettuce and cauliflower near Yuma, Arizona. Even after he started feeling sick in mid-June, he insisted on going into labor, said Yolanda Bay, his 42-year-old wife.

By the time Montgomery, 59, was taken to the hospital, he required intubation.

He died on July 18, a day that saw the number of Americans pass 140,000. And for the first time since they met as teenagers in their native Mexico, Bay was alone.

Driving through the fields her husband had plowed, she imagined him sitting on his tractor.

“Time to take off his clothes, but…,” she said, unable to finish the sentence. “There are times when I feel completely alone.


On December 14, 2020, the cameras were set to position as the nation’s first COVID vaccine was administered to a nurse in New York. But the vaccine came too late to save a fellow caregiver, Jennifer McClung.

At Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama, staff know McClung, a longtime dialysis nurse, as “Mama Jen.” She took on new nurses under her care, and some nights woke up crying worrying about her patients.

In November, McClung, 54, and her husband, John, also a hospital worker, both tested positive. She died a few hours before the vaccination campaign began and the number of Americans passed 300,000.

Today, a decal with a halo and angel wings marks the place McClung once occupied at a third-floor nursing station. In the kitchen of her mother, Stella Olive, a digital photo frame displays a steady stream of pictures and videos of the daughter she has lost.

“I could hear her laughter. I can hear her voice,” McClung’s mother said. “I just couldn’t touch her. It’s the hardest thing in the world.”


Even as the delta wave subsides, the toll continues to rise.

Last September, when Sherman Peebles, the police chief in Columbus, Georgia, was hospitalized, the number of Americans killed reached 675,000, surpassing the number of Americans who died from the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago. . He died the next day.

Outside of her job as a lawyer, 49-year-old Peebles spent every Saturday driving a barber chair at her best friend Gerald Riley’s shop.

Riley still goes to the barber shop every Saturday expecting to see Peebles’ truck. At the end of the day, he thought back to the habit he and his friend of over 20 years had always followed.

“I love you, brother,” they said to each other.

How could Riley know those would be the last words they would ever share?


Doctors and nurses fought for their lives.

So, every evening until the spring of 2020, Larry Mass and Arnie Kantrowitz open their windows to thank them, mingling with a symphony of trumpets and raucous New York cheers.

Mass worries about his partner, whose immune system has been weakened by medication after a kidney transplant. For months, Kantrowitz, a retired professor and prominent gay rights activist, took shelter on their couch.

But it’s still not enough. Arnie Kantrowitz died from complications of COVID on January 21, when the number almost reached 1 million.

Kantrowitz’s articles, in the collection of the New York Public Library, keep a record of his activity. But the 40 years he shared with the Mass can only live in memory.

On days when news headlines made Mass feel angry about the world, he reached out to his missing mate. What would Kantrowitz say if he were here?

Mass said: “He is still with me. “He’s there in my heart.”

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