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Remembering 5 people lost to the COVID-19 pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic continues to claim the lives of hundreds of Americans every day. Judy Woodruff remembers five of them, including a 29-year-old registered nurse and a 48-year-old firefighter.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    The pandemic continues to claim the lives of hundreds of Americans every day.

    We want to again take a moment to recognize just a few of them.

    Samantha Wissinger was a fighter. The Michigan native never lost her infectious laugh or uplifting spirit, even as she battled stage three breast cancer and stage four brain cancer. She was always helping others, whether that meant working as a registered nurse or fostering kittens. Last year, Samantha married the love of her life, Markus. Wednesday would have been their first anniversary. Samantha was 29 years old.

    Costell Akrie was so kind and humble that people called him Saint Costell. He served in the Air Force during the Korean War, which led him to meet Dianne. They were engaged after one month, and would have celebrated 65 years of marriage this year. Costell earned five college degrees while working three jobs to support his wife and two children.

    Active in his community in Oakland, California, he helped build a neighborhood playground and headed the Bay Area Urban League's Bureau for Veterans Affairs. Costell was 88.

    Jeff Baumbach knew how to brighten anyone's day. That joyful spirit propelled his career as an intensive care nurse and his volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America in Lodi, California. Jeff met his wife, Karen, in high school. Together, they raised four children and planned countless family vacations, from Caribbean cruises to Disneyland. He was 57 years old.

    Eric Gore was quiet and reserved, but fiercely loyal to his family and community. Following in his father's footsteps, Eric spent decades in the civil service, including as a Philadelphia firefighter. When he wasn't working, his daughter Logan was always by his side. Together, they learned Spanish and Mandarin. Eric was 48 years old.

    Anita Wynalda of Washington state stood at just 4 feet, 9 inches, but her daughter says she had a huge personality. Boisterous and loving, Anita, or Anna, worked around the clock to provide for her family, including her 13 grandchildren.

    Anna's generosity came through in her work as a registered nurse and overnight cashier at Walmart, where she knew many of her customers by name. Anna was 66.

    And our hearts go out to the families of all who have lost loved ones in this pandemic.

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