The numbers don’t tell the story since after a while people become numb to figures. It’s not that we don’t care -- we do -- but unless we have been personally touched by someone’s death, it’s hard to fathom the toll.
That’s why a five-part series in the Tribune that ended Friday is so valuable. It provides names, faces and background on some of the pandemic’s victims. The stories remind us what society has lost -- and it’s a lot. When we realize everyone who died from COVID-19 has similar stories, the magnitude of our losses becomes clearer.
Here’s a brief recap of the stories.
Sandy Wheeler, 58, who was dedicated to helping those with developmental disabilities. Though challenged herself, she didn’t hesitate to be active in her community and left an impression on those who knew her.
Walter Morlock, 92, and Lorraine Morlock, 89, were married for 70 years. They died days apart and their daughter called them “the foundation of our family.”
Greta Rasmussen, 69, a nurse remembered for singing to the children she was helping treat. She doted on her grandchildren.
Diane Gates, 75, a social worker with the Indian Health Service. Along with her husband, Bobby, they raised four children and fostered many others. She founded “Tender Hearts” to help victims of domestic abuse.
Faye Krumwiede, 70, retired from banking, but not from life. She helped a farmer with his bookkeeping, and loved cooking, gardening and being a grandmother.
They were all people of deep faith.
The Tribune has written about other victims of COVID-19 including Jesse Taken Alive, 65, a leader on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. He served as tribal chairman and was active in keeping the Lakota language alive. His wife, Cheryl, also died of COVID-19.
Dave Andahl, 55, was chosen to run for a District 8 House seat. He died before the November election, but his name was on the ballot and he was elected. His death sparked a battle on how he should be replaced.
Most of these victims of the pandemic were older, but they weren’t done with life. Dave Krumwiede testified to his wife Faye’s zest for life.
“I’m always thinking about what she wanted to do in the future," he said. "The plans we had and won’t get to do.”
The pandemic has shattered many dreams and threatens to ruin many more. The deaths so far have left a big void in our society. We need to do everything we can to bring the pandemic under control.
The Tribune editorial board believes Gov. Doug Burgum should extend the mask mandate indefinitely. It will be apparent when it’s safe to drop the mandate. We need to diligently follow social distancing and other safety protocols.
Everyone who is healthy enough needs to get vaccinated when their turn comes. The vaccines should be a game changer. Ways to speed vaccinations need to be found. One of the best ways to honor the victims of the pandemic is to overcome COVID-19.
As the Tribune stories demonstrated, the victims are our loved ones, our neighbors and the backbone of our community. Too many have died, and we must bring an end to the pandemic.