Photos of Reginald L. Relf, 50, outside of the Bellwood home where he died from COVID-19. On May 24, 2020, his loved ones held a car caravan to celebrate his birthday. | File
Thursday, May 26, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
On May 17, the United States officially surpassed 1 million reported COVID-19 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which has been collecting and analyzing COVID-19 cases, test, hospitalization, deaths and vaccines since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
“The United States has reached the once unthinkable grim milestone of one million COVID-19 deaths,” said William Moss, the vaccinology lead and executive director of the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Center.
“Equally tragic, and also once unthinkable, are the recent WHO estimates that the pandemic resulted in nearly 15 million excess deaths globally in 2020 and 2021,” Moss said.
According to public data available by the Cook County Medical Examiner, 297 of those 1 million COVID-19-related deaths were residents in the nine Proviso Township suburbs in the Village Free Press readership area.
According to the data, Berkeley, with only one death, has had the least number of fatalities among the nine suburbs while Melrose Park, with 71, has had the most. Bellwood had 33, Broadview had 17, Hillside had 10, Maywood had 66, Northlake had 51, Stone Park had 19 and Westchester had 29.
The Medical Examiner data spans from March 2020 to May 25, 2022. The data is incomplete for a number of reasons. In April, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ended its “jurisdiction over hospital, nursing home or hospice COVID-19 deaths unless there is another factor that falls within the Office’s jurisdiction,” according to the Medical Examiner’s data website.
“Data continues to be collected for COVID-19 deaths in Cook County on the Illinois Dept. of Public Health COVID-19 dashboard,” the website adds.
Below are excerpts from some of the COVID-19 stories Village Free Press has told since 2020.
Reginald Relf, a Prince superfan
According to his three siblings, there was no bigger Prince fan than Reginald L. Relf, an engineer and musician who brought grit and a gift for nuance to his lifelong fandom.
“Reggie knew Prince in depth,” said his older brother, Kenneth Relf, during a phone interview this week.
“He knew the different sounds and the people he produced with. Reggie was probably the first person who knew that Prince had been recording under a pseudonym, Jamie Starr, when he co-wrote stuff with groups like The Time, Apollonia and Vanity.”
Two deaths, six cases hit Melrose Park family
Claudia Castro, of Melrose Park, knows all too well the devastation wrought by COVID-19, the viral respiratory illness that has reshaped daily life around the world. The pandemic got personal when her father, Alberto Castro, 86, died of complications from the disease at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park on March 30.
Days later, on April 3, Ofelia Ramirez De Villagomez, 89, of Melrose Park, died of complications from COVID-19. Castro said that Ofelia was her aunt’s mother-in-law (“my first cousins’ aunt”). Four other people in Ofelia’s household, including her 89-year-old husband, contracted COVID-19 and survived.
Loyola announces no COVID-19 patients for first time in two years
During a business trip to Main in March 2020, Ted Roberts fell ill.
“When I shook the associate’s hand, my whole body trembled,” Roberts recalled. “I knew something was wrong.”
Not long after Roberts checked into Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, he tested positive for COVID-19. He was the institution’s first patient admitted with the virus.