Nearing a Grim Milestone: One Million U.S. Covid Deaths

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  • ‘Grief Is What Binds Us Together’
  • Forgive College Debt?
  • Policies at Odds With Public Opinion
  • Students’ Letters Bring Hope

Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Orders Federal Flags to Fly at Half-Staff as the U.S. Covid Toll Nears One Million” (Daily Covid Briefing,, May 12):

We are closing in on a shocking milestone in the United States. The number of deaths due to Covid-19 is now nearly one million. We Americans may feel as if we are “so over” Covid, but, sadly, it’s not yet done with us.

Those of us who have followed the medical recommendations of the experts and have been vaccinated and boosted are well protected from severe consequences. Those who have ignored the advice to vax up remain highly vulnerable to infection, and if infected, to suffering more dire health consequences.

The virus has changed life on planet Earth. Its imprint on our psyche is likely to be everlasting among those who have lived during the age of the coronavirus.

We humans like to imagine that we are the most powerful beings in this world, the masters of our domain, yet a tiny pathogen brought us to our knees. It’s been an incredibly powerful lesson in humility, a very painful one, and it “ain’t over yet.”

Ken Derow
Swarthmore, Pa.

To the Editor:

One million deaths is a horrifying figure. Anyone who has survived Covid must be grateful, even as those survivors who lost loved ones must bear the burden of the anguish of that loss.

So many beloved souls, lost to us forever.

The authorities and the medical profession did everything they could to protect the vulnerable. We will be forever in debt to brilliant and dogged researchers and to a pharmaceutical industry with the expertise and resources to provide us with a vaccine.

We have learned much about the pathogen and its behavior. Sadly, we have also had to learn what terrible costs there are to the isolation required to control it. Our hearts are broken to see the many left wounded in its wake.

We’ve always known that humans need to be in the same room together, but has it ever been clearer? We cannot take care of each other without being able to observe at close hand the fleeting expressions across a face, without being able to hear everything that subtle inflections in the voice tell us.

We need to touch and hold each other. We need to share a pew at church, a table at a restaurant, a row in a theater. We need the comfort of our many casual interactions, passing the time of day with the fishmonger, talking sports with the man behind the counter at the deli.

These two years have robbed us of our peace of mind. It will take a while for us to get it back. But if the experience has reminded us how very precious real human companionship is, then that is a good thing.

Margaret McGirr
Greenwich, Conn.

‘Grief Is What Binds Us Together’

Credit…Dror Cohen

To the Editor:

“In Grief Is How We Live Now,” by Gary Greenberg (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, May 8), is probably the most important work that I have read in The New York Times in years, and it perfectly outlines the singular problem facing the nation today.

I completely agree that Americans of all stripes are going through a profound period of national grief, not just with Covid, but also with changing demographics, the changing economy, the changing climate, changing religious beliefs (well, changing everything) fundamentally challenging our ideas of what America actually is.

Is there some kind of mass grief counseling we can go through? Is there a way we can recognize across society what we are all grieving so we can work toward some kind of solution?

Grief is what we all have in common these days. Grief is what binds us together and is the story of our time. Perhaps The Times and other national outlets can focus on that so we can somehow heal.

Austin Barton

Forgive College Debt?

Credit…Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post, via Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Forgiving Debt Won’t Help the Left,” by Jeff Maurer (Opinion guest essay, May 12):

One proposal that all sides could agree on is to lower the interest rates on most outstanding debt. This will satisfy those who feel that debt forgiveness is going too far, yet provide some relief to all borrowers.

Alexander B. Miller
New York

To the Editor:

I believe that college debt must be repaid, as this is an essential component of establishing personal responsibility. But it is also a burden to many, as it doesn’t affect all equally.

My proposal is to have students earn their debt forgiveness by being required to perform some sort of public service. Such a requirement would have the added benefit of making the students see that they are connected to a system beyond self-interest.

Larry Hoffner
New York
The writer is a retired public high school teacher.

Policies at Odds With Public Opinion

Credit…Illustration by Alicia Tatone; photographs by Alex Brandon/AP and Bob Korn, via Shutterstock

To the Editor:

Re “It Appears Roe Will Fall. It’s Time to Rage,” by Roxane Gay (Opinion guest essay, May 5):

A majority of Americans believe that a woman should make decisions regarding her own body — just as a man does.

A majority of Americans believe that the possession of an assault weapon should be prohibited.

A majority of Americans believe that the Electoral College should be abolished and that our president should be determined by a popular vote.

Where are we? Why?

Is this the country we are prepared to accept?

Richard Schaeffer
Rye Brook, N.Y.

Students’ Letters Bring Hope

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Teenagers’ Views of the News” (letters, May 8):

Insightful, probing, deeply intelligent and — in the case of Claudia Rose Perkis (who satirized the Florida math textbook controversy) — howlingly funny!

These teenagers, collectively, made me heave a sigh of relief for the future of our country, and the world. Bravo for turning over the letters column to these too often overlooked, and derided, voices!

Susan L. Chappell
Sanger, Calif.

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