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15 People We’ve Lost to Coronavirus (So Far)

If we have learned anything about coronavirus over the past few months, it is that the pandemic does not discriminate.

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The virus that doesn’t discriminate

As of May 14, over 80,000 people in the United States have lost their lives due to coronavirus-related complications; each, a massive loss and sudden void for tens of thousands of American families. The death toll worldwide has soared to over 265,000 with millions more testing positive for coronavirus. While some recognizable names have survived COVID-19, including Prince Charles, Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, the singer Pink and her son, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, actor Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina Dhowre, and Senator Rand Paul, here’s a look at notable people we’ve lost to coronavirus in 2020. Find out what a post-coronavirus world could look like.

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John Prine

When he died on April 7, John Prine, one of America’s greatest songwriters was the highest-profile casualty of coronavirus. The two-time Grammy winner succumbed to complications of COVID-19 after a nearly two-week stint in the hospital. Word of his illness first spread on March 29, when Prine’s family revealed his diagnosis and critical condition in a message posted to social media, according to Billboard. Jason Isbell, a singer-songwriter who is carrying Prine’s substantial musical torch forward, wrote an eloquent tribute in the New York Times after his passing. “If the artist’s job is to hold a mirror up to society, John had the cleanest, clearest mirror of anyone,” Isbell wrote. Prine first-person songs often relayed humorously, but always honest, stories of all types of people, from middle-aged women to elderly men. He was not afraid to be vulnerable or question the society in which his characters, and the artist himself, lived. Prine’s biggest hits include “Sam Stone,” and “Paradise.” These are 13 ways coronavirus is different from previous pandemics.

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Floyd Cardoz

Celebrity chef and winner of Season Three of Top Chef Masters died on March 25 after testing positive for coronavirus a week earlier. He was “raised in Mumbai, India, Cardoz went to Les Roches culinary school in Switzerland before coming to New York City,” according to CNN. There, he would go on to become the executive chef at Tabla, a pioneering modern Indian restaurant Floyd Cardoz opened with famed restaurateur Danny Meyer in 1998. He was 59 years old when he died. These are the states hardest hit by coronavirus.

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Roy Horn

Roy Horn of the famed Las Vegas animal act Siegfried & Roy died of complications from coronavirus on May 8. Save for a one-off comeback show in 2009, the 75-year-old had been retired from performing his popular magic tricks for nearly two decades due to being critically injured in 2003 by Montecore, one of the duo’s famed white tigers, on stage at the Mirage Hotel-Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Siegfried and Roy went on to open a compound that saved dozens of rare animals over the years, including white tigers. Find out what really happened to Roy the night of the tiger attack.

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Adam Schlesinger

While most will remember him as co-founder and singer for the pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne, Adam Schlesinger was also a Grammy, Tony, Golden Globe, Oscar, and Emmy nominated musician and songwriter. In 2018, he won an Emmy for his work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but per Variety Schlesinger was, “A 10-time Emmy nominee in all, five of those for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for which he served as an executive music producer.” Schlesinger’s Oscar nod came in 1997, for writing the theme song for the Tom Hanks-directed film That Thing You Do!, Adam Schlesinger died of health complications related to the coronavirus at age 52 on April 1. Here’s how coronavirus is affecting the world’s endangered species.

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Patricia Bosworth

In a lovely tribute in Vanity Fair, a publication she contributed to often, Patti Bosworth is described as, “An actor turned journalist, a celebrated biographer, and memoirist. She was also one of the magazine’s most valued writers, steeped in Broadway and Hollywood.” Bosworth wrote the bestselling biographies on Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, and Montgomery Clift studied at the Actors Studio with Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, and Steve McQueen (who, according to The Washington Post, drove her through Central Park on the back of his motorcycle). In 1959, she starred as Audrey Hepburn’s best friend in The Nun’s Story. She was 86.

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Fred the Godson

While the Bronx rapper who busted onto the hip-hop scene at the turn of the prior decade never scored a coveted major label record contract, he was a fixture on the New York City circuit for the past ten years. Born Frederick Thomas, NPR says that Fred the Godson, “First broke out in 2010 with Armageddon, a mixtape that heavily echoed earlier eras of New York rap with samples of the Notorious B.I.G. remix of Craig Mack’s ‘Flava In Ya Ear.'” That debut mixtape also featured contributions from several luminaries in the rap game, including Busta Rhymes, Waka Flocka Flame, and Cam’ron. Complex notes that Thomas’ wife first revealed he was in the hospital, and on a ventilator, back on April 6. Fred the Godson died two and a half weeks later. He had only recently turned 35 years old.

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Tom Dempsey

“Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and wore a flat-front shoe for kicking, is best known for his 63-yard field goal to give the Saints a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions in November 1970,” according to Bleacher Report. His long kick beat the previous NFL high by six yards and would stand as a record for 43 years before a 64-yarder went through the uprights in Denver, Colorado, in November 2013. Dempsey was 73 when he died on April 4 after developing complications from COVID-19. These moving photos of kindness in the time of coronavirus will help you feel uplifted.

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Jesus Roman MelendezCourtesy @BETOX004/Instagram

Jesus Roman Melendez

The prestigious New York City chef died of health complications related to coronavirus at the age of 49. Melendez, who was initially turned away from the hospital on March 25 before being admitted two days later after his conditioned worsened, died on April 1 after his heart stopped, per the New Yorker. He worked behind the line at Nougatine for two decades, but Melendez would go on to be known as the backbone of Jean Georges, a high-end NYC French restaurant with two Michelin stars.

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Wallace Roney

On March 31, the jazz trumpeter called “Miles Davis’s only true protege” by the New York Times died of coronavirus complications at the age of 59. NPR notes that while Roney was rising to prominence and winning awards, it was, “A public benediction by his idol and mentor, Miles Davis, that catapulted him into a rare stratum of jazz celebrity.” That moment took place at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival and was made immortal in the Quincy Jones produced film, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool.

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Lorena Borjas

Lorena Borjas was, “known as the mother of the trans-Latinx community in Queens, earning the reputation through a roughly 30-year career as a community organizer,” according to Them. The transgender immigrant activist survived human trafficking and was a lifelong defender of immigrants, sex workers, and trans folks. She saw her prostitution convictions pardoned by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2017 and had transformed her New York home into an HIV clinic. Lorena Borjas died of health complications related to coronavirus at 59 on March 30. Here’s what a coronavirus survivor wants you to know about COVID-19.

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Michael McKinnell

On March 27, the architect who co-designed Brutalist Boston City Hall, a building much maligned by the public but admired by architecture peers, died of health complications related to the coronavirus at age 84. According to Archinect, McKinnell attended Columbia University as a Fulbright scholar. Then two years after graduating, “McKinnell and Columbia assistant professor Gerhard Kallmann joined forces to enter a competition for the design of Boston’s new city hall.” Their victory in the contest was unexpected to say the least because both men were still unlicensed architects and neither McKinnell nor Kallmann had ever designed a building on their own. Listen to the fascinating story of McKinnell and his infamous Boston City Hall on Episode 400 of the 99% Invisible Podcast.

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Pape Diouf

On March 31, at age 68, the former president of Olympique de Marseille died of COVID-19 in Senegal. Diouf was the first black president of a top-tier European football (soccer) club, but before taking on that role in 2005 and overseeing a renaissance of Marseille football, the pioneering man was a respected sports journalist and influential agent representing legends Didier Drogba, Marcel Desailly, and William Gallas, to name but a few. Per Diouf’s obituary on ESPN: “He was an icon, a man of conviction, engaged, generous, a great humanist. He had integrity, was cultured, and a rare example of a guide, a guide who is both dignified and sincere.” Listen to the loving tribute the Football Ramble Daily Podcast gave Diouf on its April 2 episode. While coronavirus is highly contagious, some simple measures can help to stem its spread. In fact, it is one of many diseases you can prevent just by washing your hands.

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Mark Blum

The beloved actor is best known for his high profile work on the big screen in Desperately Seeking Susan and Crocodile Dundee and on television in Law & Order, NYPD Blue, Succession, and most recently in Mozart in the Jungle and You, died on March 26 at age 69 from health complications related to the coronavirus, per NBC News. adds that Mark Blum was seen on stage for decades as well, making his Broadway debut in 1977’s The Merchant as well as appearing in works ranging from Lost in Yonkers to both revivals of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.

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Terrence McNally

The Tony Award-winning playwright, who had survived lung cancer and lost two life partners to AIDS, died on March 24 of health complications related to coronavirus, according to the New Yorker. The magazine goes on to add that McNally said the following about why he writes so frequently about gay life and AIDS: “an artist responds to their world and tries to make sense of it, even the bad things.” These nurses shared stories of positive moments behind the scenes of COVID-19.

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Li Wenliang, MD

On December 30, 2019, while working at the Wuhan Central Hospital, Dr. Wenliang “noticed seven cases of a virus that he thought looked like SARS” and tried to sound the alarm about the now-deadly strain of coronavirus but, according to the BBC, was told by police to stop “making false comments.” The pandemic Wenliang was warning the world about would eventually take the life of the doctor on February 7, and over a quarter of a million people worldwide in the three months since. Here are 13 everyday habits that could (and should) change forever after coronavirus.

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment, and more for Reader's Digest. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. He is the proud dad of teen daughters. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.