Since early last year we hear numbers. Frequent coronavirus press briefings and statistics thrown at us since the beginning of the pandemic can become a sort of white noise after awhile.

This week, the number of New Jersey people who died because of COVID-19 hit a dark milestone. The number jumped over 20,000. To be exact, that is 17,980 confirmed deaths and 2,059 deaths medical experts consider probable.

20,039 people.

That’s hard to get your mind around. Harder still is that nationally, as I write this, we have lost 381,000 Americans. And it’s not over.

As it goes on, we all know someone who’s had it. Several co-workers of mine did. One of my son’s best friend’s and their mother both had it. Neighbors of my mother and my mother-in-law. The brother of another good friend.

When you think abstractly of 20,000 people dying of this disease complacency is natural because we hear numbers every day now since Spring. So let’s put it in a way where maybe it will hit home more. Maybe the humanity of it will be easier to see.

If you filled the PNC Bank Arts Center to capacity you would have room for 2,500 more bodies.

If you filled the seats of the Somerset Patriots’ TD Bank Ballpark you could do it three times over and it would still leave out nearly 2,000 victims.

Considering the average car is 15 to 16 feet long, if this many people were driving in a single lane bumper to bumper traffic jam it would be 75 miles long.

75. Miles. Long. That would extend from Cape May Court House to Toms River.

If you filled the Prudential Center with these lost loved ones, there wouldn’t be enough seats.

Let’s not forget for every life lost how many others are forever affected. Truth be told, this pandemic has hurt all of us, even the ones who like to lie and pretend it’s not happening.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

1st COVID-19 vaccine administered in Newark