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More Than 429,000 Have Died of COVID Since Vaccinations Became Available

Almost half of all deaths.

It is a shocking number of deaths: 1 million total dead from the disease. Even worse is that almost half died after vaccines were widely available. Yes, some died even after being vaccinated. Still, today there are millions of people who remain unvaccinated.

It is true that the virus has been especially deadly with the elderly. Yet, almost a quarter of the death count were younger.

A sobering reminder to emergency managers about how important public messaging is when it comes to warning people and convincing them to take protective actions.

From the New York Times:

“More than 429,000 people have died of Covid since all adults in the United States became eligible for vaccination in April 2021.

“A majority of them were unvaccinated, but as the virus has continued to spread, it has killed thousands of vaccinated people, too.

“‘It’s just sobering that in a country with remarkable resources like ours that we are seeing deaths like this,’ said Dr. Lisa Cooper, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity. ‘And we’re seeing a lack of benefit from therapy that we know is accessible.’

“The shocking death toll is the result of many factors, including elected officials who downplayed the threat of the virus and resisted safety measures; a decentralized, overburdened health care system that struggled with testing, tracing and treatment; and lower vaccination and booster rates than in other rich countries.

“What these failures left behind are families robbed of time with loved ones and millions of Americans who carry a grief that at times feels lonely, permanent and agonizingly removed from the country’s shared journey.

“My colleague Julie Bosman, the Chicago bureau chief, spent months interviewing Americans who have lost someone to Covid. Many feel retraumatized on a regular basis as Covid continues to claim lives.

“‘I was really struck by how many people said that when they tell someone that they lost a relative to Covid, the first question is always, ‘Oh, did she have pre-existing conditions?’’ Julie told me. ‘It’s a revealing question because to me it says, ‘I’m trying to reassure myself that I’m OK and that I’m not going to die.’ And also, ‘I’m justifying the death of your loved one.’’

“Many families feel as if their pain is being written off as the country tries to collectively move on from the pandemic. For now, there is no enduring national memorial to the people who have died, no communal place to gather and mourn.

“‘For us, the pandemic isn’t just this blip in our history,’ said Erin Reiner, whose mother, Gwen Wilson, a champion bowler and quilter in Kansas, died from Covid at the age of 72. ‘People talk about it like it’s such an inconvenience — we don’t get to do this, we don’t get to have this celebration. I only wish that’s all it was for us, for me, for the countless other families.’”
Eric Holdeman is a nationally known emergency manager. He has worked in emergency management at the federal, state and local government levels. Today he serves as the Director, Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR), which is part of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER). The focus for his work there is engaging the public and private sectors to work collaboratively on issues of common interest, regionally and cross jurisdictionally.