A small boy in a green shirt holds a face mask while leaning sadly on a black gravestone

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the effect it has had on some of the most vulnerable among us, children, has been made starkly clear. According to a new study, more than 140,000 kids in the United States have lost a caregiver to the virus. That includes parents, grandparents, and others who contributed to the child’s upbringing. 

New Study In ‘Pediatrics’ Reveals Pandemic Burden On Kids

A recent study from the journal Pediatrics took a look at the COVID-19 related deaths from April 1, 2020 to June 2021. The purpose was to figure out how many parents and caregivers were among the estimated 700,000 people who died from the virus. The findings of the study revealed grave results. 

Based on the study, an estimated 140,000 children in the U.S. are without a parent or caregiver after the adult contracted and died from COVID-19. Susan Hillis, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NPR that the total was likely higher now.

After a surge in the delta variant over the summer, Hillis, who also co-authored the study, estimated that a total of 175,000 children had been affected. 

“This means that for every four COVID-19 deaths, one child was left behind without a mother, father, and/or a grandparent who provided for that child’s home needs and nurture — needs such as love, security and daily care,” Hillis explained. “This number will continue to grow as long as our pandemic deaths increase.”

An Even More Disturbing Trend

The numbers grew increasingly stark when looked upon through a racial lens. Researchers found that American Indian and Alaska Native children were 4.5 times more likely to have lost a caregiver in comparison to white children. Black children were 2.4 times more likely, while Hispanic children were twice as likely. 

“Sixty-five percent of all children experiencing COVID-associated orphanhood or death of their primary caregiver are of racial and ethnic minority,” Hillis added. “That is such an extreme disparity.” Despite this terrible news, there are some avenues available that could help these young people in need. 

What Can Be Done To Help Those Affected?

In the report, the researchers urged President Joe Biden and his administration to include children who have lost a caregiver into COVID response plans.

The report read, “The aims of this approach include: prevent COVID19-associated death of caregivers by accelerating equitable access to vaccines; prepare safe and loving family-based care support services; and protect children using evidence-based strategies that address their increased risks of childhood adversity and violence, and strengthen their recovery.”

As the pandemic rages on, it is bound to leave even more vulnerable children grieving in its wake.

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