WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL)- On Monday, the United States surpassed more than half-a-million American lives lost to COVID-19. For some, the number is hard to comprehend. For other Eastern Iowa families, the number is very personal.
As of Monday night, 5,374 Iowans have lost their lives to COVID-19.
Each person was family and friends who loved and were loved. Unique souls who cannot be replaced and whose families are forever changed.
Alison Frederick lost her dad Steve Hodge in December. Hodge was a public defender in Dubuque for 35 years.
"He dedicated his life to people," Frederick said. "He was the life of the party. He just made people feel so good because he cared about every person that he ever met."
The 67-year-old was recently retired and spent almost every day on the golf course.
"When somebody dies young, and they are starting to live some of their best years, it just feels sad and not fair," Frederick said.
Now, Frederick and her siblings cling to memories like how their dad would leave voicemails and send text messages.
"If we had friends come over, we would always joke that we don't want to go out. We just want to stay home and hang out with your dad," Frederick said. "There are just these little quirks like and we've got a lifetime full of them. It's just it's sad because he was gone too soon."
A double blow for a family still reeling. In November, they lost Grandpa Eugene Skinner to the virus as well. The 95-year-old was a War War II veteran, an American legion post commander and for more than 30 years, a John Deere employee and union leaderv.
"He had a goal to be 100," Frederick said. "He's very much like a puppy dog. He wanted to love people and play, and the littlest things made him happy. He just got a kick out of like literally everything, and he loves his grandkids, great-grandkids, and was all about family."
Tom Blanford said his father Todd was always quick to lend a hand.
"Whenever there was a snowfall, he picked up a snowblower and do the whole block through the neighbors and end up three or four blocks away," Tom said.
Todd spent 30 years in the mortgage and real estate industry. His passion was helping people find their first home who otherwise would not be able to.
"He would help them connect with counseling service, or he would just sit down with them and show them how to do their first budget and get to that point where they could get access to a home on their own," Tom said. "He was just really passionate about helping other people."
Born and raised in the area, Todd was proud to call Cedar Falls home, and according to Tom, he made sure to let his clients know it.
For each family, it is so much more than the number their loves one represents.
"It is sad because you don't want him to only be a number. They're so much more than that," Frederick said. "My dad and grandpa will always be associated with the year 2020."
Both families want the community to know everyone has a role to play. If we make good choices, mask up, and watch our distance, we can stop adding names and faces to the list.