Editorial: Ohio’s deadly year


A recent editorial by the Toledo Blade:

For the first time in recorded history more people died in Ohio in 2020 than were born here. It is hard to imagine a more sobering statistic to sum up the coronavirus pandemic. And it should be a reality check for us all.

An analysis by the Columbus Dispatch shows roughly 143,661 Ohioans died last year while 129,313 were born, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.

When 2020 began, of course, it would have been inconceivable that the year would end with more deaths than births in the state.

And in the early days of the pandemic, even as schools and businesses were shuttering and the full scope of the danger in our midst was becoming clear, we were still lighthearted enough to joke about a looming baby boom. So much for that.

The lingering pandemic has disrupted every aspect of our daily lives. And those disruptions are often what we focus on when we think about and talk about the coronavirus — the canceled vacations, the Zoom meetings, the social distancing.

But even more often we are fixated on the politicized debates about public health, mask wearing, and vaccines.

And lost in all that is the stark reality that this pandemic has been killing dozens of Ohioans a day and sickening hundreds more. The virus killed an estimated 13,927 Ohioans in 2020 alone, according to the state health department. That means, the pandemic may account for 97 percent of the 14,348-person difference in births and deaths in 2020.

And deaths in Ohio for 2021 are again on track to outpace births for a second straight year. So far Ohio has logged 107,462 deaths and 100,781 births this year.

We have let ourselves get distracted by disagreements when we should be focused instead on the basic threat at hand. This virus is deadly and it is killing our loved ones, our friends, and our neighbors.

If the 2020 death statistics for Ohio do one thing, it should be to shake us out of our pandemic fog and remind us to focus instead on what matters — taking care of ourselves and our communities and using common sense to mask up, maintain social distancing, and get vaccinated.

— Toledo Blade, Oct. 26