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The human toll of COVID-19 deaths at the Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson can’t be explained with the raw number 22.

As shocking as that figure reported by the Madison County Health Department is, it’s just a number and doesn’t connote the preciousness of each of the 22 lives lost.

These were real people with real lives and real families. The tragedy of each of these deaths is staggering.

Many were parents and grandparents. Some were great-grandparents. They were brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and friends. Many of them had connections throughout the community and across the country.

All had unique personalities. Many had done great things with their lives. All were loved by some; many were loved by many.

Their obituaries tell their stories, and while their death by coronavirus won’t define them, it cut short the final chapter on their lives. Cruelly, many were isolated from their families when the end came.

A few people on the national stage, U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana included, have insinuated recently that getting businesses opened back up is worth the risk of infection for more Americans and worth the cost of the lives of any who ultimately die of COVID-19.

Perhaps they’re thinking that most of the people who will die from the virus were going to die soon, anyway.

That thinking couldn’t possibly be more wrongheaded.

All lives are valuable. No one, no matter their age, should be sacrificed to the coronavirus.

And while no public health measures will stop COVID-19 in its tracks, we’re compelled by our humanity to continue social distancing and staying at home and keeping businesses closed until trustworthy public health experts tell us it’s safe to begin resuming life as normal.

If you believe that life is precious, if you understand that the number 22 doesn’t begin to tell the story of the coronavirus’ human toll, you’ll see it that way, too.

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