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Hundreds of thousands of children lost a caregiver during pandemic, family reflects on their loss

Alicia Rodgers died weeks after childbirth
Hundreds of thousands of children left orphaned during pandemic, family reflects on their loss
Posted at 10:34 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 00:45:44-04

PARKER, Colo. — A new study paints a painful picture of the loss created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, released by medical journal Pediatrics, found more than 120,000 children lost either a parent or primary caregiver to the virus over a 15-month period.

The modeling deduced that one child in the United States loses a parent or caregiver for every four COVID-19 deaths.

"We'll be doing something and she'll go, 'I miss my mommy,'" Teresa Santana said, referring to her 8-year-old granddaughter.

Santana's daughter, Alicia Santana-Rodgers, died just three weeks after giving birth to twins.

In total, Santana-Rodgers leaves behind four children who are now being raised by their father. Santana-Rodgers and her husband had moved to Parker less than a year ago.

"She was planning on getting the vaccine after she had the twins," Santana said.

Santana-Rodgers' husband and children have now relocated to New Mexico to be closer to Santana and other family members.

"She truly did have a heart of gold," Santana said.

The tragic circumstances surrounding Santana-Rodgers death highlight the grave statistics presented in the Pediatrics' findings. In the study, researchers estimated a disproportionate number of Black and Hispanic children have been impacted.

It's something Asha Hawthorne knows all too well. The mother of three spoke with Denver7 following the death of her 45-year-old husband, Kareem Hawthorne.

"I'm strong, but for my kids, that's where my heartache comes from," Hawthorne said at the time.