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Report shows roughly 40,000 children lost parents to COVID-19

Black children are impacted at disproportionate levels

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COVID deaths parent FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2020, file photo, Kyla Harris, 10, writes a tribute to her grandmother Patsy Gilreath Moore, who died at age 79 of COVID-19, at a symbolic cemetery created to remember and honor lives lost to COVID-19 in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami. As officials met to discuss approval of a COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Dec. 10, the number of coronavirus deaths has grown bleaker than ever. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

A new study shows that nearly 40,000 children in the U.S. have lost their parents due to COVID-19, with Black children being affected at disproportionate levels.

Black children comprise a small percentage of children throughout the U.S. Yet, they make up a larger percentage of children impacted by the virus, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association. Black children make up 14% of kids in the U.S., but 20% of those who lost a parent to COVID-19.

“The number of children experiencing a parent dying of COVID-19 is staggering, with an estimated 37,300 to 43,000 already affected,”  Rachel Kidman, of the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University, told the journal.

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The authors estimated the expected number of affected children for each death from Covid-19, also known as the parental bereavement multiplier. The research also points out that while the bereavement multiplier is small, it translates to many children who have lost parents.

According to a bereavement model that researchers used to estimate the expected number of kids who lose parents to the disease, 0.078 children aged between 0 and 17 lose their parents, representing a 17.5% to 20.2% increase in parental bereavement absent COVID-19.

According to a CNN report, Kidman and co-authors suggest national reforms will be needed to address the fallout from the pandemic that will affect children, adding that there may target support to help with grief.

“Establishing a national child bereavement cohort could also help through identifying children who have lost a parent and monitoring them to identify emerging challenges early,” the report read. “This would also make it easier to link these children to the local support systems they need and form the basis of a study on the long-term effects of losing a parent during the pandemic.”