The number of deaths worldwide from COVID-19 reached 5 million on Monday, a “heartbreaking” historical moment that a Utah woman who lost her father last year to the virus believes will be largely ignored by people eager to leave after the pandemic.
“I do not know if they are not paying attention or if they are not affected like our family, I do not know if they really care,” said Kortnie Aldous, of Holladay, recalling the tearful family. saying goodbye by phone to her 74-year-old hospitalized father, Ken Kirkman, in May 2020,
Both her parents ended up in hospital with COVID-19, probably due to a quick stop at a grocery store where some customers did not wear masks but only her father ended up in a fan. Kirkman, who was still selling real estate and helped run his nephew’s youth soccer team, died hours after his wife was sent home to recover.
“I do not want anyone to go through this. “I really had to try to have love in my heart, I do not know how to put that but love in my heart, for people who feel that way because it’s very frustrating for me,” Aldous said. “It was very real.”
So are all the lives lost by the deadly virus, she said, something that seems lost to many people.
“I mean, 5 million people are absolutely sad for me. It is not just a number. This reflects a human being and a family that has been devastated by this pandemic. “I feel like people have moved forward,” said Aldous. “If they’re not affected by it, they just pass it on.”
The United States has been hardest hit by the virus, with more than 745,000 lives lost since the pandemic began less than two years ago. Utah reached 3,000 deaths from the virus in mid-October, a number that rose to 3,237 on Monday.
According to Johns Hopkins Medical University tracker COVID-19, which recorded 5 million deaths from the virus, Salt Lake County has the 24th-highest county count count nationwide since last Thursday, after a list led by Los Angeles County in California, Maricopa County in Arizona and Miami-Dade County in Florida.
On Sunday, the Unified Fire Department in Salt Lake County, Utah’s largest fire department, said Captain Merrill Bone died that evening due to complications with COVID-19. Bone, who retired in 2006 after 20 years with the Salt Lake City Fire Department, then joined Unified Fire, was 61 years old and was hospitalized at the time of his death.
“Captain Bone has been a very influential member of the Fire Service not only for those in the Salt Lake Valley, but nationally. “Merrill’s legacy will live on in the lives of those he helped mentor in his 35 years of service to others,” Unified Fire wrote. “Captain Bone, even though you may have escaped, you will never be forgotten.”
There have been 29 new deaths from COVID-19 in Utah as of Friday, the Utah Department of Health reported, and 3,179 new cases of the virus. The permanent seven-day average for positive tests is 1,506 as case counts appear to continue to rise after a mid-September peak driven by the highly contagious delta variant.
None of the numbers – not even the number of deaths that have reached 5 million people worldwide – appear to have much impact on Utahn, said Chris Karpowitz, co-director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University.
“I think a lot of people are numb to numbers or tired of the pandemic in general. This is unfortunate because these figures represent the lives of our fellow citizens, “said Karpowitz, adding that because the death toll is now so high, it could be beyond comprehension.
“Sometimes, when numbers get so big, it’s hard for people to fully understand them. That’s true for things like national debt, for example,” now measured in trillions of dollars, he said. “There are some of them, the limits of our capacity to fully grasp the scale of the crisis we are facing.”
The political science professor said that if Utahns had known at the outset of the pandemic how deadly the coronavirus would be, most “would have been horrified and shocked and would have worked extremely hard to avoid that outcome. “But I think at this point, a lot of people have stopped paying attention.”
It will take more than numbers to get COVID-19 back on the public radar so they can focus on securing themselves and others against the virus, including vaccination, he said. The federal government is expected to give final approval this week for children up to 5 years old to receive injections.
Political leaders and others need to speak out to counter the criticism and conspiracy theories circulating about the coronavirus on social media, Karpowitz said in a message recognizing “the common interests we share here in trying to reduce disease and death.” not needed. ”
He said he was surprised Utahn was not coming together to fight COVID-19.
“I’m completely shocked by where we are,” Karpowitz said, referring to the strain on hospital intensive care units. “The state is rightly proud of its ability to find common solutions to urgent issues and to work together. “But the longer this continues, the harder it is to bring people together for a common cause.”
For Han Kim, a public health professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, COVID-19 has been a “slow disaster” seen as procrastination, more like climate change than a single event, unexpected as an earthquake. great. that mobilizes the public in action.
“No one is really paying attention to him. I think this is just natural. We are moving into our second full COVID winter. When it is new, it is new. It ‘s scary. Now that we’ve lived a winter and some big peaks, I think people, they’re just ready to move on. “Even if COVID is not ready to move forward,” Kim said.
Reaching 5 million deaths worldwide is unlikely to have much of an impact on public behavior towards the virus, he said.
“It’s just a number at this point,” Kim said. “I think people who are scared will be a little more scared, a little more worried, they will share some other memes to be vaccinated, but for the vast majority of people, I do not think this will have much effect. ”
However, 5 million deaths is not only a sad and shocking number, he said, but is believed by many epidemiologists to actually be higher. As it stands, Kim said the death toll equals the population of Los Angeles and San Francisco combined, “a rather bleak picture. But here we are with COVID. ”