A million empty spaces: Chronicling COVID's cruel U.S. toll
ADAM GELLER, CARLA K. JOHNSON and HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH
Soon, likely in the next few weeks, the U.S. toll from the coronavirus will surpass 1 million.
Through wave after wave, the virus has compiled a merciless chronology of loss -- one by one by one.
If losing one person leaves such a lasting void, consider all that's been lost with the deaths of 1 million.
From the first deaths on the West Coast to the soaring toll in New York, and then every place in between, the nation has been marked by unfathomable loss.
COVID-19 has left an estimated 194,000 children in the U.S. without one or both of their parents. It has deprived communities of leaders, teachers and caregivers. It has robbed us of expertise and persistence, humor and devotion.
In this picture, Gerald Riley stands over the chair of his best friend and fellow barber, Sherman Peebles, at his barbershop in Columbus, Ga.
Months after Peebles died from COVID, Riley still arrives at the shop each Saturday expecting to see Peebles' truck parked outside.
At day's end, he thinks back to the routine he and his friend of more than 20 years always followed when closing. "I love you, brother," they'd tell one another. How could Riley have known those would be the last words they'd ever share?