The United States is nearing 1 million deaths in Covid, a hard -fought county with an unthinkable loss.

McVEYTOWN, Pa.. – Connie Houtz didn’t think covid was bad.

He saw many of this native in central Pennsylvania who had fallen ill but would recover within a few days. He did not receive any treatment because he was worried about the consequences of the new heart condition, which was built during the appointment.

Last October, her youngest son, Eric Delamarter, 45, suffered a cold. He stopped going to the doctor because there were customers waiting at his shop where he repaired the cars, he said. When he went to the emergency room at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and covid.

Within days, Houtz’s eldest son, Toby Delamarter, 50, was admitted to the hospital with illness and shortness of breath.

Two weeks later her two sons died. It is not locked up.

“While it’s not fair and it’s not fair, that way we’ll see why it’s coming,” Houtz, 71, said as he sat at his table.

Eric and Toby Delamarter were two of 300 people killed in the covid in Mifflin County, where cattle were often seen in pastures and Amish horses and wagons. The 60 -mile county northwest of Harrisburg relies heavily on Republicans – 77% of the vote in 2020 is for Donald Trump – and the downgrading of the first covid -19 president has found fertile land. there.

Mifflin is one of the highest covid deaths among U.S. counties with less than 40,000 people, according to government data compiled by Johns Hopkins University – 591 deaths per 100,000 people among March, compared with 298 deaths in the country.

The United States is estimated to have nearly 1 million deaths from covid – a number that was little considered when the disease began.

In March 2020, Drs. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that comparing the rate of coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. at the time, “between 100,000 and 200,000” could to die from covid.

It will be even harder to reach one million deaths when safe and effective drugs come on the market in December 2020. More than 60% of the 977,000 deaths since then .

Mifflin County provides a picture of the movement of a hard -working community from skepticism about the true science of covid disease, to about cannabis, to recording the inevitable damage. and trauma management. About 8 to 10 deaths nationwide from April to December 2021 were among those not recorded, according to a recent review of data from 23 states including New York City and Seattle by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mifflin County Coroner Daniel Lynch is not over the severity of the covid even though the death toll has dropped this year. By mid -March, his office had counted 337 covid deaths in the county – about 60 more than the record kept by the state. The coroner counted the dead in the county, as well as those living in the other counties. Among those on the coroner’s count, 311 did not receive a single covid shot. Few locals used the masks even though the issues were high in the country and the country.

“It was a clean night,” Lynch said. “I’ve been a coroner since 1996 and have never received calls from nurses reporting deaths crying on the phone or staff reporting two or three deaths in at the same time. “

Connie Houtz was seen standing outside her home, holding a photograph of her sons Toby and Eric Delamarter.  In the photograph she is holding, the boys are standing there laughing.
Connie Houtz of McVeytown, Pennsylvania, photographs of sons Toby and Eric Delamarter. They died of covid in less than two weeks in October and November 2021. Toby (left in photo) is 50. Eric is 45. The boys also lived in McVeytown, a Pennsylvania suburb of Mifflin County, which has one of the highest rates. death of covid in the country.(Phil Galewitz / KHN)

In Lewistown, county seat, it is easy to find people who have seen some of the dead.

At the Lunchbox Corner this past afternoon, the hands of five employees and customers quickly jumped in to ask if they saw anyone killed by covid. Sheila Saurbeck, 65, an official, said two friends were missing. And he found himself covid last year, living again after two weeks.

Lorrie Sirgey, 56, is in the back of the store. She said she was kept with covid for four days in the spring before she got the corn. “This is a terrible time,” he said.

Like other parts of the country, Mifflin County has seen covid cases fall sharply since January. It is common to see someone wearing masks. Health experts point to some of the reasons behind Mifflin County’s high death toll:

  • Large population – 22% of residents 65 or over.
  • A low -income population is covid (51% of the population is fully occupied, compared with 63% statewide).
  • The famous Amish and Mennonite peoples; Amish make up over 8% of the county’s population. Members of those communities do not have access to medicine and have often gathered for large weddings and funerals in the past two years, according to county officials. The Amish, meanwhile, have a low interest rate of medicine because they do not belong to the government and rely on family traditions for medicine.

Mifflin County Commissioner Kevin Kodish also criticized the policy.

“We’re very rural here,” he said. “Republicans are very, very supportive of Trump, so in the beginning people were skeptical of covid because he had degraded the disease. And I think it was taken with skepticism with cannabis. . “

The death toll in the county at about 45,000 people is hard to comprehend, he added. His 94 -year -old mother, who lives in a nursing home, died last year shortly after her own struggle with covid.

Kodish, the only Democrat on the Third County Committee, said covid divided the community, among those who took the disease seriously and got vaccine, practiced walking physically, and dressed in masks and others who wanted to live their normal lives.

Although covid has affected many families, Lewistown Republican prime minister Deborah Bargo is aware of the high death toll but has looked at the state of her city’s economy.

“It’s hard for people who have lost loved ones, and that pain doesn’t go away,” said Bargo, who has been mayor for 15 years. “But in practice, we’re back.”

Bargo pointed out that nearly all of the town’s stores have had an old theater restored, and a young Mennonite business has opened in a cafe shop.

He said he was concerned that many older people living in their homes for fear of covid were constantly being replaced by isolation. In his church, he said, people used to wear masks from other people.

Mayor Deborah Bargo was seen standing in her office laughing.  There is a symbol on the archive that reads, "Meia," printed in bold text.
Mayor Deborah Bargo at her office in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. Bargo has been prime minister for 15 years and says his city is better off with the disease while Mifflin County, Lewistown’s largest city, has seen more than 300 deaths from covid -19.(Phil Galewitz / KHN)

Noah Wise, 59, a street guard in Burnham, north of Lewistown, said he was not doing well. His wife Lisa, a nurse at Geisinger’s outpatient clinic, died of covid in December. He is 58 and has not been buried because he fears the disease could result in a terminal illness – although health experts say more people with health problems will have the disease. severe consequences and death from covid.

Wise said Lisa may have gotten sick from him after he got sick in October. “She has no regrets about not having the corn,” Wise said. “He thought he was going to pull it off.”

The death of his wife did not persuade him to be held accountable because he believed he was the cause of his first illness. Natural protection provides resistance to contracting the disease but the intensity changes dramatically, so health professionals are urging people with the disease to get vaccinated.

Jenny Barron Landis, director of the Juniata River Valley Visitors Bureau, which covers Mifflin County, said many members of the community were reluctant to take orders from government scientists. “A lot of our freelance farmers and entrepreneurs don’t agree and don’t respect the orders, and it’s been a big deal here with a lot of deaths and a lot of cases,” he said.

Against that back, Geoff Burke, a local funeral director, recalled the weeks when his Lewistown cemetery maintained up to 17 deaths, most of them from covid – triple its average. “We were sad,” he said. “Covid just finished our town when he went from nursing home to nursing home.”

On March 15, Geisinger Lewistown, a 133-bed hospital, had two covid patients, down from 50 earlier this winter, Drs. Michael Hegstrom, chief medical officer for Geisinger County, including Mifflin County. Geisinger declined to disclose the percentage of his staff at Lewistown Hospital detained for covid. All his employees would have to say whether they were arrested or released. Geisinger declined to disclose how many of his employees in Lewistown had died of covid.

However, the hospital was still suffering from the disease. It’s running on potential due to the large number of patients with health problems such as heart disease and stroke who leave care during illness, Hegstrom said.

Connie Houtz said the deaths of Eric and Toby – two of her three children – were difficult but she thanked family and friends and strong trust. She remembers Toby – who had several health problems, including small bowel cancer a few years ago – as “simple and a big teddy bear.” Eric, who has high blood pressure, likes to spend time with his daughter and take up young fishing, Houtz said.

The two brothers rode in Harley-Davidson cars and went with friends to a bar near his house. “He keeps telling you that sometimes they’re really gone,” she said.

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