These are not numbers.

  • Wilson Jerman served as butler to 11 US presidents. Known for insisting on proper place settings in his own home as well as the White House, he died of COVID-19 at the age of 91.
  • Dar’Yana Dyson loved music and dancing and wanted to be a cosmetologist. She was only 15 years old when she succumbed to COVID-19.
  • Valentina Blackhorse, a 28-year-old administrative assistant, dreamed of leading the Navajo Nation someday. Instead, COVID-19 took her, leaving her family to raise her 1-year-old daughter in the traditions her mother held dear.
  • Instead of retiring, James “Charlie” Mahoney insisted on treating his patients at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center when the virus struck New York City. The 62-year-old doctor died of COVID-19 in the same hospital where he had worked since 1982.

They are some of the more than 200,000 Americans who are no longer with us because of COVID-19.

It is appalling that anyone finds these deaths acceptable. It is unfathomable that a nation with our state-of-the-art technology, medical expertise, and supplies could fail so miserably. It is outrageous that anyone dare call the coronavirus a hoax.

How dare you.

How dare you, Mr. Trump, downplay a deadly virus to save face and win an election. You knew in February 2020 that this virus was lethal and did not act. It didn’t have to be this way. You could have saved thousands of lives, but you chose to ignore and fight the science.

How dare you, governors in anti-lockdown states, for failing to protect your workers and schoolchildren and continuing to support large, virus-spreader events. You chose your economy over lives.

How dare you whine about your “rights,” anti-maskers, and turn a health issue into a political one. We are at war with the coronavirus. In World War II, Americans put up with a lot more than wearing a mask and social distancing. They dealt with painful shortages of food, coffee, rubber, shoes, cars. Still, they stepped up and sacrificed for the greater good.

How dare you, America, for not caring enough to act, for not saying enough is enough.

As presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “There are empty chairs at dining room tables and kitchen tables that, weeks and months ago, were filled with a loved one, a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister. I worry we’re risking becoming numb to the toll it has taken on us and our country.”

Remember, 200,000 and counting.

These are not numbers. How dare we pretend they are.


For more stories of COVID-19 victims, read “Faces of the Dead” in the Washington Post or visit Forever Missed, where you will find memorials for COVID-19 victims from around the world.

Read about Joe Biden’s plan to combat the coronavirus and prepare for future global health threats.