FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A new study conducted by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences revealed one in four U.S. adults has experienced the death of a family member or close friend due to COVID-19.

According to a release, the study analyzed the responses of participants who self-reported the death of a loved one due to COVID-19. The release notes that other studies show that those who experienced loss due to COVID-19 have also suffered prolonged or complicated grief and that those grieving the loss of a close relative or friend experience increased chances of physical health issues and higher rates of disability, medication use, hospitalization, and depressive symptoms.

“People who have suffered loss during the pandemic may still be suffering,” said Don E. Willis, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Office of Community Health & Research. “The impact of the pandemic does not end at the point of death, but ripples out across social networks. Even if the last COVID-19 death were to occur tomorrow, the staggering loss of life from the pandemic will likely be impacting the lives and health of the bereaved for many years to come.”

Researchers also found that minority populations — particularly Black individuals — experienced a greater risk of death due to COVID-19, as did people 60 or older, married couples, or people who had forgone treatment due to health care costs.

According to UAMS, there have been more than one million deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the World Health Organization with nearly 12,700 Arkansans having died from the virus, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

ADH also reported that 72% of Arkansans who died of COVID-19 since February 2021 were not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website.