Watch: No additional resources for children orphaned by Covid


The number of deaths in the United States from covid-19 has exceeded 778,000. Tens of thousands of children, some of whom are orphans, are left behind after the death of their parents or a grandparent who cared for them. In this report, co-produced with PBS NewsHour, KHN correspondent Sarah Varney examines the risks these grieving children face to their well-being, both short and long term. No concerted government effort exists to help the 140,000 or so children who have lost a parent, or even to identify them.

Betty Hamilton of Eastman, Ga., Welcomed her five grandsons, aged 4 to 10, after their father died suddenly from covid in August. They had already lost their mother in a car accident years ago. Without government financial assistance, except food stamps and Medicaid, she struggles to provide the essentials: feed and clothe them as they grow.

But for these children and countless others, unmet emotional needs seem the greatest risk. Stressful events can be “biologically ingrained,” says one expert, and their unresolved grief and depression can haunt them throughout their lives, leaving them economically disadvantaged.


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