IDEAS: 520K COVID deaths and a year later, how many are still denying?

Mildred Perry’s grandchildren place flowers on her coffin at Greenmount Cemetery in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Perry died from COVID-19 on Feb. 15. The United States reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted almost a year. (Rachel Wisniewski/The New York Times)
Mildred Perry’s grandchildren place flowers on her coffin at Greenmount Cemetery in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. Perry died from COVID-19 on Feb. 15. The United States reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted almost a year. (Rachel Wisniewski/The New York Times)

Where are you now, COVID deniers?

I remember a year ago when the thinking went COVID was just a minor problem that would quickly pass. It’s not that bad. The flu is worse. COVID is being exaggerated. It only kills people in nursing homes.

Now that we have more than 520,000 dead — more than in World War I, World War II and Vietnam combined — here’s a simple question:

How many of you are still denying?

We’re approaching 17,000 dead in Ohio and now more than 900 have died in Montgomery County. Every death is not a statistic; it’s a mother, brother, father, sister, friend. These are human beings no longer with us. They are people like Tawauna Averette, a 42-year-old nurse and mother of seven who died from the virus.

How many of you are still denying?

At one point, people wondered whether the death count was exaggerated. Were deaths being mischaracterized? Were people with heart problems or cancer being categorized as COVID deaths? Several research studies show COVID deaths are more likely undercounted than overcounted.

How many of you are still denying?

COVID only impacts the elderly, one train of thought said, but look at the numbers. More than 75,000 people in the U.S. between the ages of 45 and 64 have died of COVID. This number is even more depressing: 45 babies under the age of 1 have died of COVID. Come on. I dare you to say it’s “only” 45. Tell that to grieving parents and siblings.

How many of you are still denying?

No, this isn’t at bad as the flu; it’s far, far worse. The flu virus kills up to 61,000 people each year. COVID has killed more than eight times that amount.

How many of you are still denying?

Fully one-third of COVID patients who suffered from a mild case of the virus report symptoms months later, including loss of taste, brain fog and fatigue, according to a study from the University of Washington. “Our research indicates that the health consequences of COVID-19 extend far beyond acute infection,” the study said in part.

How many of you, in good conscience, are still denying?

Deniers in the ICU for COVID don’t believe they have the virus. Even COVID deniers get the virus — and die.

And now states are rushing to reopen. Texas lifted its mask mandate and will let business open at 100% capacity. Mississippi also removed COVID-related restrictions, though in both states businesses are saying not so fast, and requiring customers to, in many cases, still wear masks.

So I suppose the question bigger than, “How many of you are still denying?” is one that’s perplexed humans from the beginning of time:

What is wrong with people?

Ray Marcano is interim Ideas and Voices editor for the Dayton Daily News.

In Other News