More than 5.2 million children globally have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19, according to a newly published study.
Researchers surveyed mortality data from 20 countries, including the U.S., India, Peru, and others from March 2020 to October 2021.
The results, published in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, revealed millions of adolescents have lost parents to the coronavirus, especially fathers – about 75 percent of parents or caregivers who died were men.
An initial study from July 2021 estimated 1.5 million children had experienced the death of a parent or caregiver between March 2020 and April 2021, but the new study increased that estimate to more than 2.7 million children.
The figures from the new study don’t account for the latest wave of the omicron variant, which likely would raise the toll even higher.
“We estimate that for every person reported to have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one child is left orphaned or loses a caregiver,” Dr. Susan Hills, a CDC researcher, said. “That is the equivalent of one child every six seconds facing a heightened risk of lifelong adversity unless given appropriate support in time. Thus, support for orphaned children must be immediately integrated into every national COVID-19 response plan.”
A study published in October 2021 found children of color are disproportionately orphaned by COVID: 65% of children who lost a parent or caregiver were children of color. Indigenous children had the highest risk, with about 1 in every 168 Native American children losing a caregiver, compared to 1 in every 753 white children.
Also in the news:
►Most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public places as a COVID-prevention measure, as federal health officials take a different approach at a time when infections and hospitalizations have been declining, the Associated Press reported.
►All government-mandated coronavirus restrictions in England were lifted Thursday, including the legal requirement for people who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate at home.
►Michigan doctors could prescribe ivermectin and similarly unproven or harmful medications to patients dying of COVID-19 and not risk losing their licenses under a bill House lawmakers approved Wednesday.
►New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was rushed out of a school event Thursday after protesters against COVID-19 restrictions formed a crowd and then chased her car.
►More than 80% of the billions of dollars in federal rental assistance aimed at keeping families in their homes during the pandemic went to low-income tenants, the Treasury Department said Thursday.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than78.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 944,800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 431.2 million cases and 5.9 million deaths. More than 215.2 million Americans – 64.8% – are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘 What we’re reading: Moderna hopes to offer a new COVID-19 vaccine booster in the fall to protect against variants. Read the full story.
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North Carolina governor vetoes ‘Free the Smiles Act’
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed a bill advanced by state Republicans that would allow students, with their parents’ permission, to opt out of masking requirements in schools.
Cooper said Thursday that the decision on mask mandates should remain with school boards, and that people shouldn’t “pick and choose” which health laws to follow.
More than half of school districts in the state have already ended indoor masking requirements as cases of COVID-19 fell recently, and Cooper also urged school boards to end broad masking mandates.
Republicans in the state legislature could try to override the veto.
“Actions speak louder than words, and the governor should do more than ‘encourage’ schools to lift their mask mandates,” said Republican House Speaker Tim Moore. “Return this decision back to parents.”
Florida issues new COVID mask guidelines that ‘buck’ CDC
A day after his state surgeon general was confirmed along party lines by the Florida Senate, Gov. Ron DeSantis Thursday announced a new statewide mask policy that he claims “bucks CDC policy.”
DeSantis said the Department of Health issued new guidelines to businesses recommending against corporations forcing employees to wear masks. Multiple studies have shown that masks are effective against the spread of COVID-19.
“People want to live freely in Florida without corporate masking creating a two-tier society, overbearing isolation for their children, and their health care practitioners having the freedom to follow science, not outdated and politicized guidance,” DeSantis tweeted.
DeSantis and Ladapo also announced new guidelines for physicians to use off-label products to treat people with COVID-19 as they see fit. Again, that goes against recommendations from national health organizations that state medical boards crack down on health care providers who treat their patients with unproven medicine or treatments that have been shown to not work against COVID-19.
-Jeffrey Schweers, USA TODAY Network, Florida
Contributing: The Associated Press