Remembering COVID-19 victims

Published 10:58 am Thursday, December 24, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The number is staggering. 
The coronavirus pandemic has taken an incalulable death toll. It’s important to remember those who have died of COVID-19. We do not have their names, but many we knew. They included mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. Some were retired, others were still working. Each has touched the lives of countless others.
The cruel nature of the killer leaves bereft friends and family often unable to even share the simple solace of a hug, a funeral, the receiving of friends, and in some instances, a graveside service. They should take some comfort, however, in knowing that we’re all mourning alongside them.
As of  Wednesday, there were 76 coronavirus-related deaths in Carter County. Ballad Health reported 114 COVID-19 deaths in the seven-day period ending Sunday and 973 deaths since March.
Everyone dies eventually, but exactly when a person dies and the cause, few of us know. But, much of the time, COVID-19 patients not only face their sickness alone, but also death. The only people at their side are doctors, nurses, aides. Family members have not been allowed into COVID-19 units. The same with nursing homes residents, who died of COVID-19 disease.
COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. Each one of those persons taken by COVID-19 will be missed. They were a part of someone’s family, someone’s neighbor.
In the beginning of this pandemic most thought COVID-19 was harmless, and it would go away rather quickly. Instead, it has lingered for 10 months, and has become deadly. The largest burden of COVID-19 has undoubtedly fallen on people older than 65; they account for around 80 percent of deaths in the United States. But, the young have died as well.
In time, we’ll be able to hug one another again. For now, all we can do is recall their lives through the eyes of those who’ve known them best: family, friends and colleagues.
As we keep noting, the COVID-19 numbers can be overwhelming. But they also serve as a sort of barrier — keeping deaths in the realm of the abstract, making it easier to ignore the reality, especially if we haven’t lost a loved one to COVID-19. That reality is this: December has been brutal, and perhaps January and February will be bad, also. Our hospitals are filling with COVID-19 patients. Health care workers are exhausted and working overtime, risking their lives to save others. They desperately need us to follow basic COVID-19 prevention measures to help limit the current surge in cases.
Because COVID-19 is a serious, too often lethal, illness.
Medical workers know more about how to care for COVID-19 patients now, but the disease still can devastate some people, while sparing others. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.
When the disease is fatal, whole families and communities can be devastated.
COVID-19 victims are so much more than mere statistics, mere data points, in the protracted battle against this deadly pandemic.
People, we know, are weary of thinking about the pandemic. We know many of us are longing for a return to something approaching normalcy. We may even resent being asked to sacrifice the ordinary traditions and gatherings of this holiday season.
But please don’t risk the pain that the families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 now are experiencing.
It might help if elected officials served as models for how to behave in a pandemic. Like wear a mask and forego their own Christmas parties.
This is what we face: While COVID-19 vaccines have received authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are being shipped around the country, some healthcare personnel have received the vaccine. Next on the list are nursing home residents and workers.
And in the interim, we are told to expect more deaths in the weeks to come.
As we’ve written before, however, we are not powerless against the novel coronavirus.
We can stay at home as much as possible. Avoid crowded places. Wear masks. Practice social distancing. Wash our hands thoroughly and regularly. Cancel holiday gatherings, however hard that may be. Heed medical experts, not politicians.
And honor the medical workers on the pandemic front lines, those who have lost their lives to COVID-19, and those who loved them, by taking the novel coronavirus seriously.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox