The first 1,000 U.S. coronavirus deaths: Who they were and what we’ve learned

It began one day in late February, with two people in King County, Wash.

Elsewhere, life in the United States was still relatively normal: economy humming, kids in school, games on, stores open, streets busy. Even then, a killer was moving silently through the country.

Those two in Washington state, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 80s, were the first of more than 1,000 people to die here of the novel coronavirus in that 30-day span, the earliest casualties in a raging pandemic that will scar generations of Americans and people across the world.

The first 1,000 U.S.

covid-19 deaths

Occurred Feb. 26 – March 26

Map does not reflect 24 deaths that were reported

without county-level information.

The first 1,000 U.S.

covid-19 deaths

Occurred Feb. 26 – March 26

Map does not reflect 24 deaths that were reported

without county-level information.

The country’s largest city remains the epicenter of the crisis, with nearly 6,900 deaths, and a rising toll in its suburbs.

The first 1,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths

Occurred Feb. 26 – March 26

The first two deaths, on Feb. 26, were related to an outbreak at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., that rapidly spread.

Millions thronged New Orleans for Mardi Gras in late February. The area’s deaths are more than 400 now and are still climbing.

Map does not reflect 24 deaths that were reported

without county-level information.

The country’s largest city remains the epicenter of the crisis, with nearly 6,900 deaths, and a rising toll in its suburbs.

The first 1,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths

Occurred Feb. 26 – March 26

The first two deaths, on Feb. 26, were

related to an outbreak at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., that rapidly spread.

Millions thronged New Orleans for Mardi Gras in late February. The area’s deaths are more than 400 now and are still climbing.

Map does not reflect 24 deaths that were reported

without county-level information.

The country’s largest city remains the

epicenter of the crisis, with nearly 6,900 deaths, and a rising toll in its suburbs.

The first 1,000 U.S. covid-19 deaths

Occurred Feb. 26 – March 26

The first two deaths, on Feb. 26, were related to an outbreak at Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., that rapidly spread.

Millions thronged New Orleans for Mardi Gras in late February. The area’s deaths are more than 400 now and are still climbing.

Map does not reflect 24 deaths that were reported

without county-level information.

Government projections warn that the plague could claim between 60,000 and 200,000 lives. By the time it burns out, it’s possible that most everyone in the country will know someone who has died of covid-19.

The Washington Post has been tracking every covid-19 death in the United States, and an in-depth analysis of the first 1,000 who died reveals the breadth of the outbreak’s impact. The virus spreads swiftly and tends to kill in clusters — in families and senior homes, in dense cities and rural towns. It is especially dangerous for the elderly, but scores of younger people have fallen victim, too.

Number of deaths

per 100,000 people

Number of deaths per 100,000 people

Number of deaths per 100,000 people

Number of deaths per 100,000 people

Number of deaths per 100,000 people

The trends that emerged during that first month of death have persisted as the toll has mounted. Men are dying more often than women, blacks are dying at a rate higher than whites, and risk rises with age. The pace, however, has increased dramatically. Just two weeks after the first 1,000, more than 21,000 have died.

Behind every reported death, every data point on a curve or chart, is a name and a story: preachers and politicians, health-care workers and teachers, police officers and prisoners, parents and children.

Precious few of those names and stories may ever be widely known. But here are some of them.

Of the first 1,000 who died, The Post found approximate ages for 458, or about 46 percent.

There were seven in their 30s, or 1.5 percent.

One of them was Jazmond Dixon.

She was 31, and she lived in St. Louis. She died on March 22.

She was going places, her family said. She had recently completed her master’s in business administration at Lindenwood University, about a half-hour outside the city.

“Her goal was really to just climb the ranks in corporate America,” said her cousin Belafae Johnson Jr., who used to sing the hook of an old rap song every time he’d see her: “I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T!”

Dixon and her cousins were especially close. Born and raised in St. Louis, Dixon lived with her mother — the two were best friends, Johnson said, and her aunt’s children, who lived nearby, were like siblings to her.

“Jazmond was like our first baby,” said Johnson, eight years older. “That was the first one who we understood: ‘This is our baby cousin — we got to hold her and change her.’ ”

To them, she was still, affectionately, the baby cousin, even now; even after she had proved her ambition and drive, working and studying simultaneously, determined to get her degrees.

Dixon, working at an American Red Cross blood bank, began to feel ill the week of March 15, and after several days, she went to urgent care with flu-like symptoms. From there, she was rushed straight to a hospital, where she died four days later.

She was the first to die of covid-19 in St. Louis; no one knew how she contracted it. To date, she is also among the youngest people in the country to die of the virus, and her family was unaware of preexisting conditions that might have exacerbated the illness.

Number of deaths by age group

Among 458 deaths for which

approximate age was reported

Number of deaths by age group

Among 458 deaths for which

approximate age was reported

Number of deaths by age group

Among 458 deaths for which approximate age was reported

Number of deaths by age group

Among 458 deaths for which approximate age was reported

“What’s so devastating is, we’re a large, close-knit family who spends an incredible amount of time together. And if Jazmond was to have passed away from ‘normal’ causes, our family would have camped out at the hospital, and no one would have left,” Johnson said. “The fact that this virus robbed us of being there for our cousin at the time she really needed family the most, it really robbed us of closure.”

The family held a small funeral for Dixon two days after she died. But only eight family members were able to attend. “And they all had to stay in their cars,” Johnson said. Everyone is quarantined. “We haven’t been able to even hug each other.”

To cope, Johnson said, his sister drove to his mother’s house and sat in the car, while his mother sat on her porch. It felt crushing. But it was the best they could do.

Shoshana Davis was 35.

She lived in Park Ridge, N.J., and she died on March 23.

The family’s last big trip was in December. Davis and her husband, Adam Kwartowitz, and their 3-year-old daughter flew to Milan and then took a train across Austria and Hungary, gazing out the windows at snowy mountain vistas and traipsing through brightly lit Christmas markets, relishing the smell of hot punch and roasting nuts and admiring the handicrafts.

The Vorosmarty Ter Christmas market in Budapest “not only captivates the imagination but also the taste buds,” she captioned her Instagram snap of a shimmering street scene.

Seeing new sights, tasting new things, opening the world to her daughter, with her husband by her side: That was what she loved.

“More than anything, she loved her daughter, and loved being a mother,” Kwartowitz said. “They had a really sweet, close relationship, which is the hardest thing to deal with.”

In early March, she came down with a fever, cough and general malaise. She had been on the mend after a bout of walking pneumonia the month before, but the fever, which worsened the following week, alarmed Kwartowitz. He took her to an urgent care center, where practitioners tested Davis for covid-19 and sent her home.

As her temperature spiked each day to 104, Kwartowitz and his wife would call the doctors again. But each time, they were told to manage the symptoms at home and to come in only if the symptoms became unmanageable.

“To be honest, we were able to keep the fever down with Advil,” Kwartowitz said. So with each dose, the fever would go down, and Kwartowitz would think, “Thank God.”

“Every night when I’d go to sleep, I thought she was getting better. Like, I’d think I was going to wake up in the morning, and she was going to want breakfast and we were going to move on.”

On the morning of March 23, Kwartowitz woke up instead to find his wife struggling to breathe. In a panic, he called an ambulance. She died later that day at a hospital.

Kwartowitz, 38, is numb. He is now quarantined in the couple’s house with their daughter, Sienna, whom he tries to keep busy with games and coloring books. He tested positive for covid-19, and his symptoms were mild. A crew deep-cleaned the family’s house and helped to sort through Davis’s belongings. There are friends dropping off food at their doorstep. And there is a crisis family psychologist who speaks to Kwartowitz by phone, guiding him in the surreal task of how to tell a 3-year-old that she will never see her mother again.

“She is aware that her presence is being missed, and that it doesn’t seem to be coming back,” Kwartowitz said. But even this process is amended, improvised, because these are unusual times. The psychologist tells Kwartowitz that he would normally advise telling Sienna the truth outright. But he worries about the added impact of the quarantine and of the lack of outside help and in-person contact. “So now it’s kind of delaying the inevitable conversation,” Kwartowitz said.

Davis and Kwartowitz met 12 years ago on the Jewish matchmaking site Jdate. He loved music. She loved reading. She used to say she hated Billy Joel, until Sienna came along and grew to like the singer so much that the couple took to playing “Piano Man” for her any time they needed her to calm down.

Davis grew up in Phoenix. She studied journalism at George Washington University in Washington and worked at CNN and CBS before moving into marketing and content creation. She would have been heartbroken to know that one of her mentors, CBS news producer Maria Mercader, died of covid-19, too, just six days later, in New York City.

In the days after Davis’s death, one of her best friends found a rabbi to arrange a traditional Jewish burial. Because of the quarantine, Kwartowitz and Sienna didn’t attend; it was just the friend and the rabbi. Kwartowitz shared some family stories with them over the phone so they could read them at her graveside; he can’t even remember now what he said.

It had seemed — until she fell ill with the virus — that Davis had been through the worst of it. “She had a really difficult pregnancy with our daughter,” Kwartowitz said. But “she exercised such amazing willpower and pulled through, and was such a great mother.” That is what he would want people to remember, “the willpower, the sacrifice and the love.”

Dez-Ann Romain was 36.

She lived in New York City, and she died on March 23.

She was always talking about her kids — the ones she presided over at Brooklyn Democracy Academy, a transfer high school for students who fell behind elsewhere.

“It was never the children,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a vigil for Romain held over Zoom. “It was considered — and always will be considered — her children.”

Those who gathered over video remembered a principal who gave her students fierce love, candid advice and haircuts — a “fighter” who shared her own story of emigrating from Trinidad as a teenager and growing up low-income.

Now Romain was the first New York City school system employee to die from complications of the novel coronavirus.

Raised by a single mother who came to New York in search of a better life for her kids, Romain fell in love with art class at her public high school, said her former classmate and longtime friend Mohamed Q. Amin. Romain and Amin spent the summer after graduation going to art museums: Romain loved to linger at the Egyptian history exhibit in the Met, reading all of the placards.

She worked her way through college as a hairdresser and started out as an art teacher, friends say. In 2017, she became the principal at Brooklyn Democracy Academy.

Her leadership there was “a profound success,” the New York City union that represents school principals and supervisors wrote in a memorandum. She secured funding, updated the building’s look and feel and gave hope to students who had been dismissed, reprimanded and expelled elsewhere.

A few years ago, Amin said, Romain heard that some of her students were being bullied for their sexuality and asked Amin — who had struggled to come out as gay — whether he would host a workshop on hate speech. She wanted him to focus on the Caribbean community to which they and many of “her children” belonged.

“I need to put a stop to this,” Amin remembers Romain telling him. She was relentless in her work, he said, and filled with care for each student.

Of the first 1,000 who died, The Post identified the gender for 416, or nearly 42 percent. Of that number, 59 percent were men, and 41 percent were women.

Of those whose approximate ages were reported, 22 were in their 40s, or about 5 percent.

One of them was David Edwards.

He lived in New York City, and he died on March 23.

Edwards knew where you’d be — and if you were on the court with him, you’d better be ready for the pass.

Edwards, a point guard who played college hoops for Georgetown and Texas A&M, was known as a crafty passer. Prolific at putting his teammates in a position to score, he set assist records at both schools.

When the coronavirus put him in intensive care, tributes to him appeared on social media, as his former teammates remembered his game-breaking skills and wished him well. Texas A&M announced his death.

“David was an outstanding player who could do some incredible things with a basketball,” said Colin Killian, the school’s former basketball communications director. “But what I remember most is how he could light up a room with his smile and personality.”

Edwards grew up playing at the legendary Rucker Park in Harlem. In a 1993 interview with the New York Times, he spoke about proving his doubters wrong.

“I’m cocky,” he said then. “I don’t back down. That’s the way I was brought up. I come from a strong family. People talked about my height, my SAT scores. They thought I was dealing drugs because I was living in the projects. It’s funny, the people that doubted me, I don’t hear anything like that anymore.”

His 265 assists as a senior remain an Aggies record.

At the time of his death, Edwards worked at a nonprofit community service organization in Queens.

“Dave was one of the fiercest competitors and best point guards that I’ve ever met,” his former teammate Charles Henderson wrote on Facebook. “Nearly unstoppable.”

Lee Green was 49.

He lived in New York City, and he died on March 23.

Lee Green, a Bronx native, was a basketball star in his youth. He played guard for St. John’s College in the 1990s, participating in two NCAA tournaments.

He served for a period as a Brooklyn police officer. And he remained a lifelong fan of St. John’s.

But Lee, the guy with “a big personality,” as one friend and former teammate described him to the New York Post, had many passions. He was a disc jockey who went by the stage name, “El Dorado,” and he showed up to play tunes at the March 14 birthday party for another New York baller, David Cain, at a cigar lounge in Scarsdale, the New York Times reported.

Edwards probably would have been at the party, too, but he already had gotten sick.

For the first 1,000 deaths, most records had no information on prior health. There were 159 that noted ‘preexisting conditions.’

One of them was Sundee Rutter.

She was 42, and she lived in Everett, Wash. She died on March 16.

Her life was a collage of kids’ sports games and family adventures. She had six kids, the youngest in middle school and the oldest in college, and they were her everything, Rutter’s friend Jessica Harris said. Rutter was constantly on the go, dreaming up spontaneous excursions for her brood.

“She’d tell the kids: ‘Hey, we’re going on a drive.’ Next thing you know, they’re in California,” Harris said. “She was very adventurous and never home. In the summertime, it was very hard to keep up with her.”

Harris and Rutter had been friends since they were teenagers. They grew up in the outer suburbs of Seattle, spent time living in Spokane, Wash., when they were young and both settled in Everett, north of the Emerald City.

To Harris’s own six kids, Rutter was “Auntie Sundee,” always there for fun, always there to help, always putting her friends and family before herself.

Rutter was also tough. “She was very independent. She didn’t put her problems out there,” Harris said, and she rarely complained. She worked at Ross Dress for Less to support her family. She weathered the sudden loss of her husband several years ago and then beat breast cancer. “But she didn’t let it get her down,” Harris said. “She still went to work, still took care of her kids.”

Rutter had recently finished chemotherapy, had just attended Harris’s daughter’s birthday party and was “just getting back to her normal life,” Harris said. Then she got sick with the virus. After nearly two weeks, she had so much trouble breathing that her son took her to a hospital, where she died.

Of those whose approximate ages were reported, 56 were in their 50s, or 12 percent.

One of them was Floyd Cardoz.

He was 59, and he lived in New Jersey. He died on March 25.

An Indian-born chef and restaurateur, he was widely credited for introducing the flavors of his homeland to New York’s fine-dining scene in the 1990s.

A James Beard Award nominee multiple times, Cardoz went to culinary school in Mumbai, then studied at the Global Hospitality Management School, one of the world’s leading programs, in Les Roches in Switzerland.

He moved to New York in 1988, determined to carve out a place for himself in the city and to prove himself to his family. They weren’t happy he had abandoned his studies in engineering and medicine, said his longtime business partner Danny Meyer.

“He used to tell me that his dad was not at all happy to learn that Floyd was giving that up to become a chef,” Meyer said, “and I think he really, really wanted to prove that Indian food should not be relegated to an $8 buffet lunch, and it should really be considered among the top cuisines in the world.”

Read more about him here.

Ron Golden was 56.

He lived in Goodlettsville, Tenn., and he died on March 21.

“Almost exactly two months after we buried our dad, my brother Ron Golden passed away on Saturday,” Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D) wrote in an Instagram post on March 22. “To many, he’ll be a statistic: Tennessee’s second COVID-related death. But to me, I’ll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father, and husband.

“Ron was a tough-as-nails Marine who was a big teddy bear on the inside. He never left my dad’s side during his final weeks and took care of everyone else in the way only he could.

“His politics didn’t match mine AT ALL (and we joked about it constantly) but Ron was a very good man who had an amazing capacity to love. I miss him dearly.”

He was a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Flanagan said, and his ashes will be scattered near his father’s grave after the family can hold a memorial service.

Louise Pevy was 58.

She lived in Bienville Parish, La., and she died on March 23.

She had a history of beating improbable odds. More than 20 years ago, she nearly drowned after she was standing on a sand barge as it sunk into the Mississippi River. Two fishermen pulled her from the water, unconscious but still breathing. Her younger sister Angela Eatman said Pevy was strong and resilient, even with a history of smoking, congestive heart failure and frequent bouts of pneumonia from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Pevy founded her own business, Louise’s Personal Touch Cleaning, and, with the help of oxygen therapy, spent hours each day scrubbing, sweeping and mopping her clients’ businesses and houses in the parish, a popular hunting and fishing region of northwest Louisiana. When she wasn’t working, Pevy liked to tend her garden, take care of her sons and grandchildren and go on motorcycle trips to Hot Springs, Ark.

On March 13, she was found collapsed on the floor, struggling to breathe, in her home. She was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance and later transferred to a larger hospital with a lung specialist. An initial test for covid-19 was inconclusive because the first hospital mishandled the sample, Eatman said. As they waited for a retest, Eatman said, family members hoped it was just a severe bout of pneumonia. Finally, on March 21, Pevy’s test result for covid-19 returned as positive.

“When they told us that she did test positive, our outlook on everything changed,” Eatman said. “We knew she wasn’t going to be able to fight it because she just wasn’t strong enough.” Hers was the first death in her parish attributed to the coronavirus.

“She was a very godly woman,” Eatman said. “She was not scared of dying, at all. She didn’t want to die, but she wasn’t scared.”

Of those whose approximate ages were reported, 83 were in their 60s, or 18 percent.

Two of them were sisters Patricia Frieson and Wanda Bailey.

Patricia Frieson, a woman of deep faith, was the first person in Illinois who was known to die of the coronavirus. (Chicago Sun Times)

Wanda Bailey, who died nine days after her sister Patricia, “just loved to give parties and invite people over to her house.” (Chicago Sun Times)

LEFT: Patricia Frieson, a woman of deep faith, was the first person in Illinois who was known to die of the coronavirus. (Chicago Sun Times) RIGHT: Wanda Bailey, who died nine days after her sister Patricia, “just loved to give parties and invite people over to her house.” (Chicago Sun Times)

Patricia was 61, and she lived in Chicago. She died on March 16.

Wanda was 63, and she lived in Crete, Ill. She died on March 25.

Part of a tightknit family of nine siblings, the two sisters lived near each other, went to church together and had been to a funeral together right before Patricia fell ill, their brother Richard Frieson told the Chicago Tribune.

Two days before she died, Patricia wrote of her faith in a Facebook post. “Until the good Lord calls Me away from this world to the next, I want to make it clear that I believe in Jesus Christ as the True Lord and Savior. Despite the fact that I am human, and I fail a lot of times, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who was sacrificed on the cross, and died for our sins,” she wrote. “He loves us all dearly (far more than we deserve) and forgives our sins if we are in repentance. His Word says ‘who so ever believeth in Me, will be granted eternal life.’ ”

Patricia was the first person in Illinois who was known to die of the virus. That same night, Wanda checked into the emergency room with a cough. She died nine days later.

Family members have spoken proudly of the sisters’ character and passions. Nephew Tarah Frieson posted a video on Facebook of Patricia, who had heart disease, lung disease and hypertension, belting out hymns in church.

“She always spoke her mind, kept the word in your ear good and bad times,” he wrote. “Her smile lit up the room every time we saw one another. Her voice ppl would line up to hear.”

Bailey “was the party planner,” Richard Frieson told CNN. “She had so many friends that she just loved to give parties and invite people over to her house.”

“The toughest part about my sisters’ deaths is that they had to die alone in that hospital,” he said. “We’ll have a memorial service when we can all get back together again … But right now, all we can do is FaceTime each other and give hugs over the phone.”

Larry Edgeworth was 61.

He lived in New York City, and he died on March 19.

He was a husband and a father of two, and for more than two decades, he worked as an audio technician at NBC News. He traveled to war zones, embedded with political campaigns and covered the Olympics, distinguishing himself as a skilled professional and kindhearted colleague.

Edgeworth’s work brought to life safaris in Namibia, Super Bowl celebrations and political rallies, airing on the “Today” show and across the network’s other programs. His kinship when cameras weren’t rolling was what co-workers said they treasured.

“Many of you were fortunate enough to work with Larry over the years, so you know that he was the guy you wanted by your side no matter where you were,” NBC News Chairman Andy Lack wrote in an email to the staff.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) remembered him as “a special part of the Romney Rambler family” that covered his 2012 presidential campaign, and several said Edgeworth was a guy who always had their back.

“In any situation, he was on guard to make sure you were okay — mentally, physically,” “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie said in an on-air tribute to Edgeworth. “He was a protector. He was a bear of a man and a teddy bear at the same time.”

Guthrie ended the segment with a knowing tribute: “So after 25 years at NBC, a moment of silence. Clear audio, for the man who would appreciate it most.”

Dennis Dickson was 62.

He lived in New York City, and he died on March 26.

In 2012, when deadly Hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City, the city’s police department was stretched thin. Precincts were flooding. Calls to 911 were ceaseless. Behind the scenes, Dennis Dickson worked for 17 days straight, cleaning up the NYPD headquarters building.

Eight years later, as the coronavirus shut down the city again, Dickson, a custodial assistant at the department, was back in the building, cleaning and disinfecting, keeping other police staffers safe as they went to work. At some point, he became infected.

“Today, we lost one of our own,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a recorded address. “We have lost a member of the NYPD family, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his extended family.”

Dickson, who according to his social media was from Guyana, had worked for the NYPD since 2006. He was the first member of the department to die in an outbreak that by April had infected a fifth of the city’s police force.

“We are hurting, we are crying,” Shea said at a news conference. “And we continue to fight. We simply have no other choice. It is in our heart and in our soul to sacrifice and to serve.”

Dickson’s Facebook page has become a memorial to his life. Debbie Dickson, his wife, posted a picture of the two together, Dennis’s face nuzzled against hers.

“This is how I want to remember my husband,” she wrote.

Elizabeth Eugenia Wells was 65.

She lived in Rome, Ga., and she died on March 19.

Deeply compassionate and forgiving, full of faith and song, she sang in her church choir, played guitar and wrote a book about gardening and scripture that she titled “Garden Variety Wisdom.”

When her best friend was battling cancer, her daughter, Hilary New, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Wells quit her job to care for her full time.

She first felt sick after a church service and went to a hospital when she got worse. Less than two weeks later, she died.

New said her mother, who also had diabetes and high blood pressure, made it clear: She didn’t want to live on a ventilator.

“She had asked me if I could pull the plug, if it came down to that,” New told the Journal-Constitution. “I said, ‘I would cry, yes, but I would because that is what you want.’ My mom took that choice out of my hands.”

“My mom was and always has been about helping others — about trying to bring God to others,” New added. “It was never about my mom. My mom didn’t think of herself first.”

Alex Hsu was 67.

He lived in Broward County, Fla., and he died on March 25.

An internist for nearly 40 years, he was the first health professional in South Florida known to die of covid-19.

“He worked tirelessly to serve his patients with kindness and compassion while never turning down anyone who needed his care,” his wife, Terry Svirk Hsu, wrote on Facebook. “He did not hesitate to provide his patients with his personal cellphone number and graciously took calls, day or night, for any concern a patient or family member might have.”

Other former patients and friends of Hsu chimed in with their own posts.

“I will always remember his kindness,” one former patient wrote. “I remember I didn’t have insurance .. he gave me a huge discount a few times .. thank you Dr. Hsu for serving our community .. you are our HERO!”

Another Facebook user described how her mother, one of Hsu’s patients, used to enjoy making limoncello cake for the doctor as a gesture of gratitude.

And a woman who identified herself as Hsu’s daughter’s former basketball coach described him as “kind, genuine, and caring.”

“Dr. Hsu,” she wrote, “never missed a single game.”

Of those whose approximate ages were reported, 122 were in their 70s, or about 27 percent.

One of them was Darlene Kimball.

She was 72, and she lived in Kirkland, Wash. She died on March 6.

She grew up in Alaska, the daughter of a passionate dog sledder. But it was the dog sledding, which she decided was a form of animal cruelty, that ultimately steered her to a life of vegetarianism and devotion to animal welfare that she, in turn, instilled in her own children, her daughter Tami Kahler said.

Mother of three, grandmother of five, Kimball raised her family in Woodinville, Wash., where “she made all of us volunteer at the animal shelters.”

“The only reason she had all three of us is, she wanted to carry on the animal activist stuff that she did growing up,” Kahler joked, adding that when she met her husband, Kimball asked him in earnest whether he expected to become a vegan or a vegetarian. “She’d say, ‘How can you be an animal lover if you’re eating meat?’ ”

Kimball was among the first people in the United States to die from complications of covid-19. She had been a short-term resident at the Life Care facility in Kirkland, the earliest epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.

She had been living with ovarian cancer for four years but was in relatively good health, her daughter said, and went to Life Care for a short rehabilitative stay after a fall.

Soon, however, she began coughing and struggling to breathe and over the course of a week went from lucid to comatose, which stunned the family. She was one of the first of more than 40 deaths now tied to the Seattle-area nursing home and rehabilitation center, and her family was with her until the end.

“Every day was happy. She was a super amazing woman,” Kahler said of her mother. “You would want her to be your mom.”

Richard Curren was 77.

He lived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and he died on March 17.

The day after he found out about his father, Erik Curren was called to an emergency city council meeting. The cause of his personal tragedy could soon sweep his hometown, and they needed to prepare for the worst.

Curren, a councilman in Staunton, Va., wanted to know about the senior care centers — places like the one where his dad, Richard Curren, had lived in Fort Lauderdale. The places that the coronavirus could devastate like it had already devastated Curren’s family.

He thinks his father, who was 77, probably caught the disease at Atria Willow Wood, an assisted-living facility about five miles from the Atlantic Ocean in Broward County. Six other infected residents have died. Richard Curren’s wife of 57 years, Sheila, tested positive, but recovered and recently ended her quarantine.

“It became much more tangible to me,” Erik Curren said. “I wanted to know: What are our plans? So no other families have to go through what my family did.”

The last time they spoke, his dad sounded energetic and optimistic, Erik Curren, 54, said. He hadn’t said anything about feeling sick. He had diabetes and a heart disease but was among his community’s healthiest residents, and he was happy to be able to help out his neighbors in a trying time.

Then, in a phone call days later, Curren found out: His father was gone, and it was covid-19.

Richard Curren may have never known his diagnosis. He wasn’t tested for days, and his results didn’t come back until just hours before he went into cardiac arrest. Erik Curren wasn’t there when his father died, and he didn’t get to say goodbye. There was a private cremation, but it wasn’t live-streamed. A restriction on gatherings means the family can’t hold a formal funeral — and even if they could, travel warnings would make the long-distance journey difficult for Curren.

“There’s a lack of closure for me,” Curren said. “It’s very intangible. I have to imagine it in my mind. I have to remember what my dad looked like so I can imagine him at the end.”

Richard Curren was “a man of the mid-20th century,” his son said. He was circumspect when discussing his emotions but tender with his family. When he was young, he aspired to be a professional magician, landing some gigs and joining the Magic Castle in Los Angeles.

He married Sheila at 20 years old, started a family and moved on to more stable work. But he always saved some magic for his children and, later, his grandchildren. Curren was a master of the classics: He could pull a coin from behind their ears or a bouquet of flowers from behind their backs. And even when joint replacement surgeries made it painful, he loved to get down on the floor and play with his youngest grandchildren at eye level.

Erik Curren inherited his father’s love of history. As a boy, he carried his dad’s copy of “The American Heritage Picture History of World War II” to bed and read it ragged. Curren hadn’t seen the book since he was a child, but earlier this month, he found a copy at an antique shop and paid $10 for it. He opened the old book after his dad died, and a wartime parallel leaped out. Curren wrote in a personal essay that his father “wasn’t just an unlucky 77-year-old in an assisted living facility in South Florida who happened to get a deadly infection.”

“My dad was a front-line fighter in a battle for the future of humanity and the nations of the earth, one of the first American casualties in a world war.”

Susan Rokus was 73.

She lived in Loudoun County, Va., and she died on March 25.

She was a beloved reading tutor who had a special gift for bringing out the best in her students. She started as a first-grade teacher in 1969 and retired from Loudoun County Public Schools in 2014, staying on part time to tutor struggling readers at two elementary schools.

Former students spoke of her lasting influence, friends of her loyalty and love of Italian food, colleagues of her colorful outfits and distinctive decor — especially the leopard-print chair, shaped like a stiletto, that she kept for years at the front of her classroom.

Parent after parent shared the same story: No one could teach my child to read. And then, they said, Ms. Rokus just did it.

“She could teach a rock to read,” said Loudoun County resident Kristin Flora, 50. “And my son is living proof of that.”

Julie Ciardiello, 51, a Loudoun elementary school teacher, met Rokus 20 years ago. Now, Ciardiello is stuck on the little things. Like how Rokus got her nails done every other week. How she loved the sound of fingernails tapping on a cellphone screen but hated when people looked at their phones during dinner. How she bought hundreds of pairs of gorgeous shoes but only ever wore a few.

How she adored “Judge Judy.” How she never missed church. How she said, “Oh my gawd — but with a g-a-w-d,” Ciardiello said, “not g-o-d.”

Ciardiello’s son had promised Rokus a dance at his wedding. “I’m going to miss all the things she can’t be a part of now,” Ciardiello said.

Read more about her here.

Of those whose approximate ages were reported, 110 were in their 80s, or 24 percent.

One of them was James Dupree Carriere.

He was 80, and he lived in New Orleans. He died on March 17.

When his widow, Margaret, finally left her apartment for the first time in weeks after his death, she walked into a community that was grieving.

The tightknit neighbors at the Lambeth House senior center in New Orleans would normally have come together at a time like this. That day, they stood six feet apart.

Even so, she said, she found the presence of others comforting, especially those who know the surreal pain of losing a partner to a pandemic — and the attendant fear that one’s self may be in danger, too. Carriere was one of 13 Lambeth House residents who have died.

In one of their last conversations, Margaret told her husband that she was positive, too. She was asymptomatic but spent the days after his death in isolation, quarantined at their unit in the facility’s independent-living wing. After weeks with no symptoms, she was able to leave the apartment but not the complex.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” she said. “I know intellectually he’s not here, but it doesn’t seem real at all.”

Because James Carriere was hospitalized relatively early in the outbreak — and because Margaret, 68, was infected herself — they were allowed to spend his last days together, with her outfitted head-to-toe in medical protective garb. They talked for hours, he asked for a glass of wine, and they called his kids and grandkids on FaceTime.

That’s how Olivier Carriere said goodbye to his father, who was confined to a ward, away from the rest of his family.

“That was the hardest part, not being able to see him, be at his side and give him a hug,” Olivier Carriere said.

And the family has had to stay separated, too. They’ve been swapping stories and sharing memories by phone.

“We’re not gathering as a family, we’re not sitting around like you would when a relative dies,” Olivier Carriere said. “Instead, we’re text messaging. That’s how we’re gathering together and comforting each other.”

James Carriere was a 10th-generation Louisianian who could trace his ancestry to the founding of New Orleans. He spent his life in law and was the patriarch of a generation of Carriere lawyers. He worked for the Justice Department, prosecuting labor racketeering cases and, like his father, he became a judge, serving five years as a magistrate for the U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

“He always helped me whenever I needed it,” said Olivier Carriere, who is also a lawyer. “I never tried a case without calling him and running it by him.”

Even with a packed schedule as a lawyer and public servant, James Carriere had time for family and mentorship. He coached his son’s Little League team and taught law school, and until the semester before his death, he was a volunteer professor at Loyola University.

That same dedication he brought to his hobbies, said Margaret, also an attorney.

He spent hours every day on the terrace outside their apartment, tending to a collection of camellias, bougainvilleas and amaryllis. He grew oranges, lemons and figs. Beyond the balcony, the Mississippi River slinks by. It’s beautiful, she said. Out there, she’s surrounded by his work.

In the days after she left quarantine, the garden was beginning to bloom, and some of the fruit was starting to come in.

Terrence McNally was 81.

He lived in Sarasota, Fla., and he died on March 24.

The prolific, much-honored playwright rose to the forefront of American theater with a humane and lyrical style in works such as “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class.”

With his supple, approachable plays, Mr. McNally emerged as a pivotal American dramatist, particularly as art and politics collided during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.

His body of work comprised dozens of plays, nearly a dozen musicals and several operas. His modes ranged from anxious farces and social critiques in the 1960s and 1970s, when the gay-bathhouse romp “The Ritz” (1976) was his biggest hit, to the warmhearted “Love! Valour! Compassion!” (1994), which illustrated the lives of eight gay men vacationing at a lake house. His “Corpus Christi,” which depicted a Jesus-like figure and his disciples as gay, ignited a firestorm in 1998.

After decades of qualified successes and setbacks, Mr. McNally had a run of Tony triumphs in the 1990s that made him a commercial force. Mr. McNally, who had surgeries for lung cancer, also received a lifetime achievement Tony in 2019, accepting the honor with breathing tubes strikingly visible over his tuxedo.

He joked at the time, “Not a moment too soon.”

Read more about him here.

George Siegel was 89.

He lived in Long Island, and he died on March 23.

It wasn’t like George Siegel to stay quiet during a car ride. He usually took any opportunity to chit-chat with his only daughter, Jennifer McNamara.

That’s why McNamara grew deeply concerned on March 14, after she picked up her father at his apartment complex in Patchogue, a village on the south coast of Long Island, N.Y., where he lived with his wife of 60 years, Linda, and their beloved Wheaten terrier, Bo.

By then, Siegel had complained of a low-grade fever for nearly a week, and his physician diagnosed him with a urinary tract infection and prescribed an antibiotic.

Late that Saturday afternoon, Siegel wasn’t in the mood for banter. Instead, the retired “jack of all trades,” who formerly ran auctions, sold cars and secured valuable items for the Library of Congress, sat in silence as his 52-year-old daughter shuttled him around Long Island looking for answers. First, they went to a health clinic, and hours later, they drove to the emergency room of Stony Brook University Hospital.

“I could tell he wasn’t right,” McNamara said. “He said he felt weak. Very weak.”

There were already signs of an influx of patients at Stony Brook. Cars lined up outside the drop-off area. McNamara wheeled her father in through the front doors, but security wouldn’t let her go farther.

Doctors ran a battery of tests, and early on, they suspected that Siegel might be suffering from covid-19.

“He was in shock,” she said. “He was like, ‘Oh my God, they think it’s coronavirus.’ ”

The forced separation was a gut punch for McNamara, who leaned on her father for years after the death of her husband, a New York City firefighter and 9/11 first responder. In 2009, John McNamara died at age 44 from colon cancer that he believed was linked to hundreds of hours of work in the toxic rubble at Ground Zero.

Siegel stepped in as a surrogate father for his grandson, Jack, who was just a toddler at the time. With the help of home health aides, Siegel also cared for his ailing 83-year-old wife, as Alzheimer’s disease left her bedridden.

While physicians at Stony Brook waited last week for test results, they limited Siegel’s interaction with family and friends. Still, McNamara kept her hopes high. Her father’s voice sounded strong. He gladly accepted a tuna sandwich — his favorite — from a friend who dropped off lunch for him at the hospital.

Siegel told his daughter that he wasn’t ready to die. He had survived prostate cancer, melanoma and quadruple bypass surgery but felt like he was in generally good shape for his age.

“What he wanted was everything that would give him a chance,” she said.

Soon, his condition worsened. He was placed on a ventilator, and physicians tried a combination of medicine to treat his symptoms. On March 20 — five days after his admission to the hospital — his test results came in. He was positive for covid-19.

On March 23, McNamara learned that his condition had rapidly worsened. She donned a protective gown, gloves and masks and entered her father’s hospital room. She told him that she loved him fiercely.

“I gave him permission to go if he was tired of fighting,” she said. “I told him that I would take care of Mom and Bo, and that I would be okay.”

She said goodbye and left the hospital.

A nurse called just hours later, at 11:50 p.m., to say that Siegel had died.

“They said that his heart slowed and stopped. It was peaceful,” McNamara said. “And I guess that’s all I could ask for. And that was it.”

Of those whose approximate ages were reported, 56 were in their 90s, or 12 percent.

One of them was Romi Cohn.

He was 91, and he lived in New York City. He died on March 24.

In late January, Rabbi Cohn grew deeply emotional as he stood before Congress delivering the opening prayer on the day that marked 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“As a young boy of 10 years, I was condemned to be dead, to be murdered,” Cohn told the lawmakers. Instead, he joined the partisan forces that fought the Nazis in what was then Czechoslovakia and helped to rescue 56 Jewish families.

The Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, which records the history of dozens of resisters, says Cohn sneaked into Hungary in 1942, when Czech Jews were being deported to concentration camps. His mother and four siblings were later killed in the camps.

With forged papers identifying him as Christian, Cohn returned to Czechoslovakia in 1944 and created fake identity documents for fellow Jews. After he was arrested and escaped, according to the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, he joined the partisan fighters at age 15. He eventually titled his memoir “The Youngest Partisan.”

He moved to Brooklyn, where he became a respected rabbi and a mohel who performed thousands of circumcisions, welcoming new generations of Jewish baby boys.

Read more about him here.

Larry Rathgeb was 90.

He lived in West Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and he died on March 22.

In the 1970s, during the heyday of stock-car racing, he took a risk that nearly cost him his job.

Rathgeb was the lead engineer for racing development for the Dodge Daytona. He told his bosses at Chrysler that by focusing on aerodynamics rather than horsepower, they could reach record-breaking speeds of 200 mph — though the car would look more like an airplane than an automobile.

With the executives’ blessing, Rathgeb, racecar driver Buddy Baker and a mechanical crew went to NASCAR’s Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama on March 24, 1970, with a Dodge Daytona stock car rigged with a nose cone and wing.

The first time around the oval track, the car clocked 194 mph. Thirty laps later, the team led by Rathgeb took it to 200.447 mph, a world record for a closed course.

“NASCAR racing wouldn’t be what it is without Dad,” his son, Jeff Rathgeb, said. “He has a legacy.”

Read more about him here.

Amy Brittain, Cindy Boren, Julie Tate, Jennifer Jenkins, Hannah Knowles, Meryl Kornfield, Hannah Natanson, Tim Carman, Nelson Pressley and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report. Graphics by Tim Meko, Lauren Tierney and Adrian Blanco.

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