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The Covid-19 Trauma

The story

Shortly after New Years’ Day in 2000, the Covid-19 attack began on the people of the United States, carried here by its unknowing host—a passenger on a flight from Wuhan, China, to Washington State.


Within weeks, hospitals and ER frontline workers were overwhelmed by deathly ill patients with a new disease they didn’t know how to treat:


“It’s controlled chaos.”


“There’s a lot of moral injury from this pandemic that will take me years to recover from.”


“It is devastating to tell a patient I am going to have to put them to sleep and on a ventilator knowing they may never wake up. I see the fear in their eyes.”


“Having to see people die alone without loved ones cuts the soul...”  Stories from the Front Lines of Covid-19 in the United States: United Nations Foundation


The chaos revealed the wide difference in impact across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups; the unavailability of diagnostic testing; the failure of federal, state and local governments to coordinate.


18 months after Covid-19 arrived on that fateful flight, the attorney who led the investigation into the 9/11 attacks began investigating what became the catastrophe of Covid-19.   

“We’ve just had the worst calamity in most living Americans’ lives... I would like to see a detailed analysis of what happened and recommendations to prevent it from happening in the future. I think Americans are owed that.”  Eric Schmidt, philanthropist and former chief executive of Google, in The New York Times, June 16, 2021.

The statistics

Note: The numbers and statistics here are drawn from multiple sources. Whenever they varied, the most reliable / most recently available data were used.


600,000 dead and counting.

The death toll from the pandemic is more than 200 times that of the 9/11 attacks.


New York City has a record number of 33,370 deaths, the highest rate of confirmed deaths in the country (as of June 16, 2021).


San Francisco has the lowest.


More than 3,600 American health care workers died in Covid-19’s first year. A major cause was the lack of PPEs—Personal Protective Equipment like N95 masks and face shields for frontline workers. In the early part of the pandemic, 4,100 safety complaints were filed with the Labor Department’s workplace safety agency about the shortage. It did no good. In one New Jersey hospital, 11 ER workers died.  “It literally decimated our staff,” a surviving ER nurse said.


Hispanic American communities have a higher rate of infections than any other racial or ethnic group.


The U.S. has the highest health care expenditures in the world, and lower life expectancy than the average of the world’s richest economies.


Analysis of almost 2 million Covid-19 patients of all ages, including children, found that nearly one-fourth of them have experienced “long haul”—Covid-19 after-effects—one month or more after their infection, including pain in nerves and muscles, migraines, heart abnormalities, and intestinal symptoms.


Scientists predict that pandemic diseases will become more common through the rest of this century.


“After 9/11 we came together against another kind of common enemy and began to heal.  Because of the nature of a pandemic—which prevents people from comforting one another—and the deterioration of American politics—a petri dish of division and hate—we failed as a country to fight the Covid-19 attack with the unified front we demonstrated 20 years earlier.”

Terri Laxton Brooks

Executive Director, Severe Clear 9/11: 136 Untold Stories

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