Earlier this week the United States surpassed 200,000 deaths due to Covid-19. This NBC News story gives a good summary of the impact of this number in our country.
On May 29, 2020 I wrote about the 100,000 deaths caused by Covid-19. In just shy of four months we’ve doubled that number, and some experts estimate it could double again toward the end of the year.
So, why focus on these numbers? Why blog about such sad news? My answer to that as a pastor is that we need to grieve. There has been so much focus on “getting back to normal” and “re-opening the country and our economy” and “pushing for a fast-track vaccine”. I fear in the rush and hurry we are overlooking our need to grieve.
Think for a moment about the 200,000 households that are working through loss. How about the over 200,000 relationships those people had at work, in families, with neighbors, at church, in service clubs and in other ways. The number of lives impacted quickly, exponentially far exceeds 200,000.
This number is 5 times the annual deaths due to influenza. It’s now the third highest cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. This pandemic will leave an impact on our nation, on our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. Failure to lament, to grieve, will only push away work that will need to be done later. It will only scab over wounds that will re-open. So, let me invite you to sit for a moment with this number: 200,000. Imagine it not as a number but as people – mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, neighbors, people of all ages, frontline workers and the very elderly. Most all of them died removed from family because of the precautions required in the treatment of Covid-19. Each of them leaves a hole where their life made contributions.
Could their deaths have been prevented? I’ll leave that to those who know more than I. But what I do know is that I want to prevent others from joining their number. I pray those who lead us would be equally cognizant of the sacredness of life – any life, all lives.
Today I mourn this awful number. Today I pray for the slowing of the spread, the avoidance of needlessly adding to the number. Today I pray for a cure – a vaccine – and the wherewithal of the American public to embrace the measures needed to safely move ahead. Amen.