‘Their whole sky has fallen’: more than 167,000 US children have lost a caregiver to Covid

Death toll underscores daunting task facing schools as they help students recover not just academically, but also emotionally


Guardian: Melanie Keaton, 9, used to spend hours playing with her grandfather. Having tea time together from her miniature toy set. Taking trips to the zoo. Zigzagging their characters across the board of Candy Land.

When he fell ill from the coronavirus in April 2020 and went to the hospital during New York City’s deadly first wave, the young girl, then just 7, turned to her mother.

“He’ll be OK, right?” she asked.

Her mother, Melissa Keaton, days later had to tell her daughter that their beloved “Papa,” who was 61, wasn’t coming back to the Flatbush apartment he had shared with them and where he had helped care for his granddaughter.

“My father was in the hospital,” Keaton told The 74. “We never heard from him. We were never able to see him or speak to him. Once he passed, [Melanie] didn’t get to see that visual, final goodbye.”

The young Brooklynite is one of more than 167,000 children who are believed to have lost parents or caregivers to Covid during the pandemic – roughly one in every 450 young people in the US under age 18.

The count updates the October estimate that 140,000 minors had lost caregiving adults to the virus, and is four times more than a springtime tally that found nearly 40,000 children had experienced such loss. In a 9 December report titled Hidden Pain, researchers from the COVID Collaborative and Social Policy Analytics published the new total, which they derived by combining coronavirus death numbers with household-level data from the 2019 American Community Survey.  Read more…




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