The U.S. is facing the tragic milestone of 1 million deaths from COVID-19 this week. While most counts have yet to officially reach 1 million — a tally by Johns Hopkins University passed 999,000 on Thursday morning — the true sum of COVID deaths nationwide already far exceeds that mark. “CBS Mornings” lead national correspondent David Begnaud reflects on some of the lives that were lost amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Pamela Orlando was a registered nurse from New Jersey and a single mother of two boys when she was diagnosed with COVID-19. One of her sons told CBS News that Orlando recorded videos of her downward spiral because she wanted to show people what the virus was doing to her.
“I feel horrible,” she said in one video.
She died on April 16, 2020, at age 56.
When CBS News checked in on her two sons, her oldest, Reid, said he had previously considered a career in broadcasting — but after his mother died, he started working for a medical staffing company to honor her.
Orlando’s younger son, Ryan, is an 18-year-old high school senior. He said he’s dedicated his studies to his mother, and recently earned a scholarship to college.
At one time, Cody Lyster was the youngest person to die of COVID-19 complications in Colorado. The 21-year-old was an avid baseball player and all-around talented athlete.
His father Kevin also fought COVID-19, but survived. Lyster’s parents told CBS News they try to live lives that would make him proud. They talk to him every day and tell him about the milestones he’s missed: a new puppy, his sister’s first prom. She plays softball, and wears her brother’s number.
Jonathan Coelho passed away on April 22, 2020, after 27 days in the hospital. A few hours before the 32-year-old was placed on a ventilator, he wrote a note to his wife Katie that included: “It makes me so proud to be your husband and the father to Braedyn and Penny.”
Almost two years later, Katie said parenting alone has been a challenge, especially while grieving. But her desire to be strong for their two children drives her forward. Braedyn, who has cerebral palsy, has learned to walk with the aid of a walker. Their daughter took her first steps on Father’s Day last year.
Katie created the Jonathan Coelho Fund to help families pay for health care costs of children.
Angelle Mosley of New Orleans was a breakthrough case of COVID-19, meaning she contracted the disease despite being fully vaccinated.
Mosley died just two days after she was hospitalized, on July 25, 2021. Shortly after Mosley died, her mother told CBS News that she was going to keep her daughter’s business going because “that was her baby, that was her dream.”
Mosley’s Clothing store “Brave Beautique,” which specializes in women’s plus-size clothing, is still open under the management of her mom and friends.
David Lemaire had just graduated high school when he died from COVID-19 at 19. He and his brother Jacob, who survived, were both hospitalized in the ICU with COVID-related pneumonia.
David fought for weeks. His father, Mark, who is a doctor, spent many days at his son’s bedside praying and watching his son’s slow deterioration.
“We learned a lot about my son […] how compassionate he was, how deep his faith was,” said Mark.
In July, his loved ones commemorated his passing with a balloon release to mark the one-year anniversary of his death. David had a love of photography, especially landscapes — and his dad said whenever he sees a sunset, he feels his son is watching over him.
Alfredo and Susana Pabato
Alfredo and Susana Pabato were married for 44 years. The New Jersey couple both contracted COVID-19 and died within four days of each another in March 2020.
They’d been on the COVID frontlines: She was a nurse, he was a medical transporter.
“He passed away at the hospital where he worked for 18 years,” their daughter Sheryl said.
Sheryl said that OSHA investigated the hospital where her parents died and accused hospital officials of failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. Sheryl had concerns that her father wasn’t provided with the proper PPE, nor was he trained on how to use it.
Sheryl said she’s now become a certified health inspector and wants to become an OSHA investigator herself. She’s also now married, to a man she said she believes was a gift from her parents.
David Begnaud is the lead national correspondent for “CBS Mornings” based in New York City.