More than 140,000 children have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19

Posted at 4:24 PM, Nov 05, 2021

PHOENIX — A recent modeling study published in the journal Pediatrics estimates that Arizona has the second highest number of children who lost a primary caregiver per 100,000 children, only behind New Mexico.

The CDC calls children losing a parent or caregiver to COVID-19 an ongoing secondary tragedy from the pandemic.

The data found that one U.S. child lost a parent or caregiver for every four COVID-19 associated deaths.

“Children facing orphanhood as a result of COVID is a hidden, global pandemic that has sadly not spared the United States,” said Susan Hillis, CDC researcher and lead author of the study. “All of us – especially our children – will feel the serious immediate and long-term impact of this problem for generations to come. Addressing the loss that these children have experienced – and continue to experience – must be one of our top priorities, and it must be woven into all aspects of our emergency response, both now and in the post-pandemic future.”

Along with being in the top list of children who lost a primary caregiver, Arizona was in the top five when it comes to the total estimated number of children who lost at least one primary caregiver to COVID-19.

“Overall, the study found that states with large populations – California, Texas, and New York – had the highest number of children facing COVID-19 associated death of primary caregivers. However, when analyzed by geography and race/ethnicity, the authors were able to map how these deaths and disparities varied at the state level,” a press release from the CDC wrote.

The study highlighted racial disparities, “We observed marked racial and ethnic disparities in the risk of COVID-19- associated orphanhood or death of grandparent caregivers, affecting 1 of 753 white children, 1 of 412 Hispanic children, 1 of 310 Black children, and 1 of 168 American Indian/Alaska Native children.”

Lisa Pandone Benson lost her mother to COVID-19 in February and knows the pain of loss — but, she can’t imagine what it would be like for a young child.

“If I’m weighted down by my mother’s death, I can’t imagine how a nine-year-old might feel, one day your parents there, the next day they’re gone and you had no lead up to it,” she said.

Pandone Benson, through her non-profit that helps refugees, is hoping to gift a child or children this holiday season.

"For a child who was suddenly orphaned, or your caretaker is gone, you don’t dare ask for a Christmas gift, what are you asking for, you’re asking for the universe to bring back your parent, but that’s not going to happen," Benson said.

Pandone Benson is taking nominations here if you know of a child who could use a little hope and joy this year.