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Photo: Noam Galai via Getty Images

Nearly 40,000 children have lost a parent to the coronavirus, according to a new model published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Why it matters: Children who lose a parent are at greater risk of traumatic grief, depression, poor educational outcomes, and unintentional death or suicide, the authors write. Over 500,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

By the numbers: The number of children who have experienced a parent dying of the coronavirus is "staggering," said the research letter, which was led by Stony Brook University's Rachel Kidman.

  • Black children made up 20% of those who have lost a parent to the disease despite comprising only 14% of children in the U.S.
  • Each coronavirus death leaves 0.078 children between the ages of 0 and 17 parentally bereaved, the model estimates, representing a 17.5–20.2% increase in parental bereavement absent the coronavirus.
  • That means 37,300 children between the ages of 0 and 17 — three-quarters of whom were adolescents — had lost at least one parent to the coronavirus as of February this year. Factoring in excess deaths bumps the number to 43,000 children.

A natural herd immunity strategy that "results in 1.5 million deaths demonstrates the potential effect of inaction: 116,900 parentally bereaved children."

  • For comparison, the authors noted, the 9/11 attacks left 3,000 children without a parent. "The burden will grow heavier as the death toll continues to mount," they wrote.
  • The estimates rely on modeling, not survey or administrative data, and do not include bereavement of nonparental primary caregivers, according to the letter.

What they're saying: "Sudden parental death, such as that occurring owing to COVID-19, can be particularly traumatizing for children and leave families ill prepared to navigate its consequences," the letter states.

  • "Moreover, COVID-19 losses are occurring at a time of social isolation, institutional strain, and economic hardship, potentially leaving bereaved children without the supports they need."

Go deeper

Apr 5, 2021 - World

England to open nonessential businesses for first time since December

Johnson visiting a garden store last week. Photo: Scott Heppell/WPA Pool/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday that England will proceed on April 12 with phase two of its four-step roadmap to reopening its economy, announcing that all nonessential shops, hairdressers and gyms can reopen and that pubs and restaurants will be permitted to serve customers outdoors.

Why it matters: It's a reflection of the continued success of Britain's vaccine rollout, which has been among the best in the world. The U.K. last year suffered the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe and its biggest economic contraction in 300 years.

Updated Sep 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question — Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay.
  2. Health: Worsening crisis at Rikers Island jail spurs call for action — 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising.
  3. Politics: White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss vaccine — Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Pandemic fuels staggering teacher shortages across the U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic has pushed teachers out of the workforce in droves, and many schools don't have a strong safety net to fill the gaps as children come back into classrooms.

Why it matters: Teaching has been one of the toughest pandemic-era jobs, with pivots to remote learning and then risk of infection with school reopenings.