From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Ashton M. Verdery, Emily Smith-Greenaway, Rachel Margolis, and Jonathan Daw
PNAS July 28, 2020 117 (30) 17695-17701; first published July 10, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2007476117
Edited by Douglas S. Massey, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and approved June 19, 2020 (received for review April 18, 2020)
COVID-19 has created a mortality shock throughout the world, and it may yield a second wave of population health concerns tied to bereavement and social support reductions. We created the COVID-19 bereavement multiplier, an indicator that clarifies one downstream impact of COVID-19 mortality and can be applied to different epidemiological projections of death counts: How many people are at risk for losing a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse, or child for each COVID-19 death. In the United States, we estimate that on average, under diverse epidemiological circumstances, every death from COVID-19 will leave approximately nine bereaved. Studying how acute mortality crises reverberate through a population in the form of bereavement multipliers expands understandings of the social impacts of health crises.