COLUMBUS, Ohio — The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.
An estimated 37,000 to 43,000 American children lost a parent to COVID-19 as of February, according to research published this week.
Among the findings, which appeared in JAMA Pediatrics, children aged 0 to 17 experienced a surge in what’s known as “parental bereavement” of somewhere between 17.5% and 20.2%.
Of those 37,000 who lost a parent, an estimated 73% of them are aged 10-17.
The lower estimate is based on a calculation using official data on the number of deaths that health departments have attributed to COVID-19.
The higher estimate is based on the estimated number of “excess deaths,” or number of deaths beyond what could be expected in a non-pandemic year. Epidemiologists use excess deaths to measure pandemics because they capture changes in death rates on a large scale, providing a clearer picture of a pandemic’s damage.
Researchers found of the 37,300 children who lost a parent, roughly 20% were Black. Black Americans, in comparison, comprise about 13% of the U.S. population.
It’s unclear just how many Ohio children have lost parents to COVID-19. A spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Health did not respond when asked if such information is tracked.
Sweeping national reforms are needed to address the health, educational and economic fallout affecting children, the researchers said in their report.