Washington, May 13 (AP) On the deadliest day of a horrific week in April 2020, COVID took the lives of 816 people in New York City alone. Lost in the blizzard of pandemic data that's been swirling ever since is the fact that 43-year-old Fernando Morales was one of them.

Two years and 1 million deaths later, his brother, Adam Almonte, fingers Morales' bass guitar and visualises him playing tunes. In a park overlooking the Hudson River, he recalls long-ago days tossing a baseball with Morales.

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“When he passed away it was like I lost a brother, a parent and a friend all at the same time,” says Almonte, 16 years younger than Morales, who shared his love of books, video games and wrestling, and worked for the city processing teachers' pensions.

If losing one person leaves such a lasting void, consider all that's been lost with the deaths of 1 million.

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The U.S. toll from the coronavirus will soon surpass that once unthinkable milestone.

The pandemic has left an estimated 199,000 children in the U.S. without one or both of their parents. It has deprived communities of leaders, teachers and caregivers. It has robbed us of expertise and persistence, humor and devotion.

Through wave after wave, the virus has compiled a merciless chronology of loss -- one by one by one.

When it began, the threat hadn't yet come into focus. In February 2020, an unfamiliar respiratory illness started spreading through a nursing home outside Seattle, the Life Care Center of Kirkland.

Neil Lawyer, 84, was a short-term patient there, recovering after hospitalization for an infection. When he died of COVID-19 on March 8, the U.S. toll stood at 30.

Lawyer, born on a Mississippi farm to parents whose mixed-race heritage subjected them to bitter discrimination, was the family's first college graduate.

Trained as a chemist, he lived and worked in Belgium for more than two decades. Fellow expats knew him for his devotion to coaching baseball and for his rich baritone.

After Lawyer -- known to family as “Moose” -- and his wife retired to Bellevue, Washington, he and other family members would serenade couples at their weddings in an ensemble dubbed the Moose-Tones.

Last October, when one of his granddaughters married, the Moose-Tones went on without him.

“He would have just been beaming because, you know, it was the most important thing in the world to him late in life, to get together with family,” his son David Lawyer says. (AP)

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