‘A beautiful soul’: Remembering Americans lost to COVID-19

One year ago, the first known coronavirus-related death in the United States occurred in Santa Clara County, California.

Patricia Dowd, 57, had reported flu-like symptoms and died abruptly at home on February 6, 2020. Her death was not initially linked to the coronavirus, but in April US media reported that Dowd had died from COVID-19.

In the past 12 months, more than 26 million COVID-19 infections have been reported across the US. The number of new infections and hospitalisations recorded each day has fallen in recent weeks and the government has accelerated its vaccination programme, but the discovery of new variants of the virus are fuelling concerns about its continued spread. Many hospitals around the US are stretched to full capacity.

The US has recorded the highest death toll in the world, surpassing 450,000 this week. On February 4, 2021, the seven-day average for COVID-19 related deaths was 2,997 deaths per day, according to the COVID Tracking Project. President Joe Biden has warned that the total number of deaths would pass half a million in February.

The people profiled below represent a small fraction of the lives lost to the pandemic.

They include a gifted engineer who helped pioneer the technology for laptop computers, a psychologist who dedicated his life to helping those suffering from mental health and substance issues, a speech pathologist who left a lasting impact on everyone he met, a respiratory specialist who risked her own life to save others during the pandemic, and a lawyer who dedicated his life to fighting for justice and equality. These are their stories.

When Danilewicz was not spending time with her granddaughter, she enjoyed playing bingo and being a doting cat mom. Additionally, she was an active member of her prayer group and was always present to pray the rosary each month.

Danilewicz entered hospital on April 14 and passed away on April 30 from complications due to COVID-19. She was 73.

In addition to her granddaughter, Danilewicz is survived by her husband of 29 years, Miroslaw; her son Carlo; her daughter Cecile; and her son-in-law Carmine.

Cecile remembered her mother’s courage, strength and bravery throughout her life.

“I describe my mom most as brave,” she said. “Brave because she left her country without knowing a single person in the United States. During her sickness to COVID, it was even proven further how brave she really was. She was alone in her fight because we couldn’t be with her in the hospital but I know she fought it bravely.”

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