Opinions

The lives lost
0 deaths
Feb. 1

A tattered American flag hangs from a fence across the street from Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images)

This editorial has been updated.

PATRICIA CABELLO DOWD was 57, worked for 28 years as a senior quality manager at a Silicon Valley semiconductor manufacturer, was married for almost 25 years, had a daughter, exercised regularly and loved reading, scrapbooking, traveling, going to movies and wine tasting. She is believed to be the first known U.S. casualty of the novel coronavirus, dying Feb. 6 of a ruptured heart caused by her body’s struggle to defeat the virus.

From dozens to tens of thousands in 15 weeks

100,000

80,000

Cumulative death toll from covid-19 in the United States.

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May 27

From dozens to tens of thousands in 15 weeks

100,000

80,000

Cumulative death toll from covid-19 in the United States.

60,000

40,000

20,000

Feb. 1

March 1

April 1

May 1

May 27

100,000

From dozens to tens of thousands in 15 weeks

80,000

60,000

Cumulative death toll from covid-19 in the United States.

40,000

20,000

Feb. 1

March 1

April 1

May 1

May 27

In the 15½ weeks since Ms. Dowd collapsed in her kitchen in San Jose, 100,000 other people in this country have died of covid-19. Worldwide, the death toll as of Wednesday afternoon was about 352,000; the United States, with less than 5 percent of the global population, accounts for nearly a third of all deaths. With much about the virus still unknown, a vaccine still out of reach and a faltering response from national leadership, there is no end in sight. That makes it all the more urgent to remember and honor the individuals behind the grim statistics.

Sean Boynes, shown with his wife Nicole and daughters, Sierra and Gabrielle. (Danielle Snyderman-Miller)

Reading about these lives interrupted — people of all ages and colors and from all walks of life — is heartbreaking but also ennobling. Particularly striking are the true heroes — those who continued to work in essential jobs they knew carried risks. “I’m the only pharmacist,” Sean Boynes, 46, told his wife about why he didn’t just stay home.

James Mahoney. (Saundra Chisholm)

James Mahoney, 62, was supposed to have retired, but he knew his skills as an emergency room doctor were needed, so he spent days in the intensive care unit at University Hospital of Brooklyn and nights across the street at Kings County Hospital Center.

Leilani Margurite Jordan. (Zenobia Shepherd)

Leilani Jordan, 27, continued to work as a clerk at a Giant Food store because, as she told her mother, she liked helping people.

Paul Cary, pictured in his Aurora Fire Rescue uniform. (Ambulnz)

Paul Cary, 66, answered the call for paramedics to volunteer on the front lines of New York’s coronavirus crisis by driving 27 hours from his home in Colorado.

April Dunn, center, with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and his wife, Donna F. Edwards. (Louisiana govenor's office) (Louisiana governor's office)

So many of these people overcame enormous obstacles to make rich contributions to American life. April Dunn, 33, was denied a high school diploma and jobs because of her disabilities but ended up helping to rewrite Louisiana law to ensure equal employment and educational opportunities for people like herself.

Margit Buchhalter Feldman. (Family Photo)

Margit Buchhalter Feldman, 90, survived the Holocaust and then devoted her life to teaching children about the atrocities that killed 6 million Jews.

Theodore Gaffney. (Family Photo)

Theodore Gaffney, 92, whose ancestors were enslaved, risked his life to document the 1961 Freedom Rides that were a key moment in the fight by African Americans for civil rights.

Wogene Debele with her husband, Yilma Tadesse, and their children Naod, 10, Mihret, 17 and Asher, 4. (Family photo)

Gratitude is in order for these people, and sadness, and anger. Wogene Debele, 43, a stay-at-home mother, never got to meet her fourth child because she had covid-19 and her infant boy was taken away right after birth.

Nicky Leake and her brother John Leake Jr. and their mother, Leslie Leake. (Shanta Leake-Cherry/family photo)

Three members of the Leake family died within 20 days of each other at a time when one of them, 45-year-old Nicky, was looking forward to her destination wedding in Hawaii.

We should pause and remember these people. But the best memorial would be to double down, now, on efforts to prevent this terrible loss of life from continuing.

A procession of emergency vehicles follows the ambulance carrying the body of retired paramedic Paul Cary May 3, in Denver. Cary died from coronavirus after volunteering to help combat the pandemic in New York City. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Read more:

Joe Scarborough: I believe in American exceptionalism. That’s what makes this crisis so hard to accept.

Michele L. Norris: The ‘us and them’ pandemic shows America is still impervious to black pain

Alex M. Azar II: Reopening isn’t a question of health vs. economy when a bad economy kills, too

Leana S. Wen: Four concepts to assess your personal risk as the U.S. reopens

We need smart solutions to mitigate the coronavirus’s impact. Here are 40.

Eugene Robinson: The U.S. covid-19 death toll must be seen as a catastrophe — and an indictment of Trump

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