The Mt. Mercy community is mourning the loss of one of its students to complications from COVID-19. University President Todd Olson confirmed the passing in a letter to the community on Monday, according to the Des Moines Register. The family of 21-year-old Ashley Hudson tells us she died from complications from the disease on Monday morning.

According to Olson, Hudson was "an aspiring kindergarten teacher and had dreams of becoming a Mt. Mercy graduate". He went on to call Hudson's death "deeply painful" for the "tight-knit" Mt. Mercy community. The Register reports that around 1500 students attend the university located in Cedar Rapids. The school held a vigil that honored Hudson on Monday night in the school's chapel. Faculty and staff are reminded that counseling services are available free of charge at the school's Olson Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic.

Social media posts from Hudson's family say that she'd been hospitalized with COVID for weeks, according to the Register. As of Monday, three other Mt. Mercy students had confirmed cases of COVID-19. One other campus community member is also hospitalized with the disease. Masks are required indoors on campus, according to the Register. All students and staff have also been encouraged to get vaccinated.

Yesterday, the COVID pandemic became the deadliest in U.S. history, surpassing the estimated fatalities from the 1918 influenza pandemic, according to CNBC. COVID deaths surpassed 675,000 on Monday, with the U.S. now averaging nearly 1900 per day according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Historians say it is important to note the population differences of the two pandemics. In 1918, influenza killed 1 in 150 Americans. COVID has claimed the life of 1 in 500 Americans.

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