EUGENE, Ore. -- A new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that around 40,000 U.S. children under the age of 17 lost a parent this past year due to COVID-19. That's about a 20% increase in parental deaths from before COVID-19.
According to this study, that means that about 190 Oregon children in the age range lost a parent due to the virus.
Dr. Rachael Kidman, a professor at Stony Brook University, co-authored this study.
"I would call it a crisis," said Kidman. "It's the kids who are left behind after the pandemic sweeps through. The pandemic will end; hopefully, these really severe mortality numbers will end in a relatively short period of months or years. But this crisis with kids will not only affect this year or next year but ten years or twenty years down the road."
One way kids can get a sense of normalcy is by going back to school, according to Kidman.
"Right now, I think the kids really need schools open. I'm glad the federal government is spending a lot to make sure kids can go back safely," said Kidman.
Mental health specialist Torie Heater agreed and said having a routine is important for students to deal with grief.
"We feel safe when we know what to expect. Even though kids may push back against boundaries, kids actually feel safe and secure knowing what's next," Heater said.
Heater also said that there needs to be more availability of support services for children, especially with so many children losing a parent.
"This is happening to a lot of kids at once. This impacts the services available to them, when it's already flooded," Heater said. "It needs to be prioritized."