Every day, the number of families mourning the death of a loved one to Covid-19 keeps growing at a devastating rate.
But this holiday season has been especially brutal, with more than 50,000 deaths in just the past month, according to Johns Hopkins University.
In the past week, an average of 2,403 people in the US have died from Covid-19 every day.
That’s an average of one Covid-19 death every 40 seconds.
“Any death from Covid is a terrible tragedy,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNN on Monday.
And the effects go beyond families directly impacted by coronavirus.
“I lost my father in April. I wasn’t able to see him for the month-and-a-half before. I’ve gotten to experience the pain of individuals who can’t be with their relatives,” Azar said. “The pain and the anguish in our health care system in our country is real.”
Doctors say the death toll will keep accelerating this winter, as Covid-19 hospitalizations reach unprecedented and unsustainable levels.
On Sunday, a record-high 109,331 people were hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
And while widespread vaccination is on the horizon, it’ll be at least several months before most Americans can get vaccinated.
In the meantime, Americans are largely in control of how many more families will lose loved ones during the holidays.
That hinges on personal responsibility:
Wear a mask anytime you’re around someone who doesn’t live in your household (even if that’s in your own home).
If 95% of Americans consistently wore masks, it could save an estimated 56,000 lives by April 1, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
Don’t rely on a negative test result to see friends and extended family.
And if you want to socialize without wearing a mask, create a strong bubble to keep everyone happy and healthy throughout this winter.
Small sacrifices made now could prevent your family from being the next to lose a loved one.