Not just a number: Millions grieving the 250,000 Americans dead from COVID-19

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ByDan Krauth via WABC logo
Friday, November 20, 2020
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Dan Krauth has more on the growing population of grieving Americans as the nation reached a grim mileston of 250,000 COVID deaths.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As the nation reached a grim milestone of 250,000 COVID-19 related deaths this week, the true number of people affected, including those who are mourning, is much larger than that.

Researchers analyzed something called the "bereavement multiplier."

It shows just how widespread the grief can be.

When one person dies, it can affect at least nine other immediate family members.

"It gives you a sense of how much grief and loss is blanketing our country right now. It gives you a different sense of the scale of this crisis and the far reach that is has in our population," University of Southern California Professor Emily Smith-Greenaway said. "It's very conservative, we are talking about very intimate losses, the loss of a very close relative. We can't capture in our data the loss of more distant relatives."

Research also shows minority communities are getting hit the hardest.

RELATED: A Quarter Million - America's Loss: Where are the hardest hit communities in our area?

"The Black population and Hispanics are at greater risk of death, related to this virus," ABC medical contributor Dr. John Brownstein said.

No one knows more about the multiplier effect than Timothy Jean.

His family operates a Brooklyn funeral home, which helped lay more than 200 people to rest who died of COVID-19.

"It's something that we've never been prepared for and especially when you're in the midst of losing people you know. There are stories behind each and every one of the people who passed away," Jean said.

In addition to helping other families through their pain over the past eight months, Jean has lost dozens of members of his own church to the coronavirus.

"You might see on the news this is the number of people who passed away, but the stories and the thousands of people that are impacted by that, you begin to feel the weight of that and I felt the weight of that personally," Jean said.

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