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Wish it was easier to grieve virus victims

While patient privacy is important, so is public grief, and we wish there was not so much secrecy about deaths.

We are grateful that relatively few North Country residents have died of COVID-19 so far — and none that we know of yet in the Tri-Lakes area — but given the recent outbreaks in our hometowns, it is likely that people will die here, too.

And if things go they way they have in most places, the people who die will not be named by officials — perhaps only if the family mentions it, like former Saranac Laker Lenore Reynolds’ family did in her obituary, published Wednesday.

If we know whom the virus had killed, we can not only mourn them but also have a proper, realistic understanding of the pandemic’s cost — and a more powerful motivation to pull together as a society and take precautions to prevent it from kiling more people.

Music fans, for instance, may know that the virus killed singwriter John Prine, country singer Joe Diffie or jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz. “Star Wars” movie fans know it killed David Prowse, who played arch-villain Darth Vader (though James Earl Jones provided the voice). Baseball fans may know it killed ace pitcher Tom Seaver, and anyone who followed the 2012 presidential election probably knows it killed Republican candidate Herman Cain. From sports to science to politics to religion, every field has lost beloved people to this virus — but too often, we know the celebrities.

In the 1918 flu, Lake Placid residents mourned the death the pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Church. Now, more than a century later, none of the people who died of the virus in Franklin or Essex County has been publicly named.

We truly understand those families’ wishes, but we also suggest, respectfully, that there may be some public value in knowing whom this terrible disease takes from us.

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