KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 500,000. That’s more than the entire population of Kansas City, Missouri.
<a href=”https://marc2.org/covidhub/” target=”_blank”>In Kansas City city limits, 447 people have died of the virus.</a> In the entire Kansas City metropolitan area, the number is about 2,150.
It’s impossible to count the number of lives touched by each of those deaths.
“It does something to you every time you hear the number. Knowing that you have a family member in that astronomical number,” Garnice Robertson said.
Robertson lost her mother to COVID-19 in April of 2020.
She says it feels like it just yesterday when it happened. She still remembers vividly the call from Providence Hospital telling her the bad news.
Her mother, 89 year old Georgia Mae Clardy, caught the virus inside the Riverbend Post Acute Care Rehabilitation Facility in Wyandotte County. 19 residents there died, and more than 100 residents and staff tested positive for COVID-19.
Clardy had seven children and more than 20 grandchildren.
Robertson said Clardy was a quiet soul, but friendly and very curious.
“She’d always be looking out her window trying to see what’s going on,” Robertson said. “And I’d say ‘come on Mama quit being so nosy!’”
Clardy died 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
The family held a graveside service for her at the time, but wasn’t able to hold a church funeral due to COVID-19 emergency orders.
“She loved church music. So I made sure she was at church every Sunday at the facility, and when I would go, I would put videos on and she would know all the hymns. She loved listening to that,” Robertson said.
COVID-19 funerals have been difficult to plan.
Some families didn’t get to have one at all.
Others, had virtual ceremonies, or small, socially distanced services.
“I’s been a little frustrating at times when we have a COVID case coming through because we don’t know exactly what this virus is all about,” Gwendelrae Hicks said.
Hicks owns Northern Star Mortuary in Kansas City, Kansas.
She says the pandemic has been a whirlwind of a year for her industry.
“I’ve been in this industry a long time. I’ve seen a lot. But this pandemic is new,” she said.
From increasing personal protective equipment while embalming, to learning how to work around emergency orders when planning services, and consoling families who lost loved ones who died alone in hospitals, it’s been a difficult year.
For the families who have lost someone, the grief has only just begun.
“I know some of my siblings still struggle with not being able to have seen her, to say goodbye,” Robertson said.
Though COVID case numbers are on the decline locally and in many regions across the country, public health officials predict thousands more COVID-19 deaths before the pandemic is over.
<a href=”https://www.northernstarmortuary.com/obituary/Georgia-Clardy%20″ target=”_blank”>Obituary for Georgia Clardy</a>