A new study published by the American Medical Association found that nearly 40,000 U.S. children have lost one of their parents to COVID-19.
“This may come as a surprise, since 81% of lives lost in the US have been adults 65+,” study author Rachel Margolis, an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario, tweeted. “However, we are also seeing high mortality among younger adults, many of whom have children under 18.”
The researchers also ran the calculation taking into account deaths indirectly due to the pandemic and found that, in that scenario, the number of children affected jumped to 43,000.
“The number of children experiencing a parent dying of COVID-19 is staggering,” the study’s authors wrote. “For comparison, the attacks on September 11, 2001, left 3000 children without a parent. The burden will grow heavier as the death toll continues to mount.”
The study found that 20% of children who lost a parent to the virus were Black, despite Black children only making up 14% of the population of U.S. children.
The authors of the research are calling for “sweeping national reforms” to help treat the grief and emotional pain children who lost a parent to the pandemic are suffering.