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More than 140K American children have lost a parent or guardian to COVID-19, research shows

COVID-19 has taken away thousands of children's primary or secondary caregivers, but minorities are a particular group that has been hit the hardest.

BEAUMONT, Texas — The hope that comes with the vaccine is far too late for 140,000 American children who lost both of their parents or care providers to the coronavirus.

They're now considered "COVID orphans."

COVID-19 has taken away thousands of children's primary or secondary caregivers, but minorities are a particular group that has been hit the hardest.

COVID-19 has taken away friends, coworkers, moms, and dads.

“While everybody experienced the same loss, but we're all coping with it differently,” said daughter Madison Segura who lost her father to COVID-19.

For sisters Madison Segura and Meagan Byrd, it was their father Christopher Segura. He died from COVID-19 last year.

“It was just really hard because also he was one of the first like few deaths in Beaumont because of COVID,” Madison Segura said.

More than 140,000 U.S. children experienced the death of a parent since the start of the pandemic.

“I didn't even know my dad had it. I remember our last conversation was, ‘Hey, I'm just going to the hospital. I'm not feeling so well.’ It was a week, and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, he passed that morning,’” Madison Segura said.

Texas has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths among parents 14,135 to be exact.

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“People just don't take it seriously whether you got the vaccine or not. A lot of them just don't take it seriously,” Madison Segura said.

According to the journal of pediatrics, minority children like Byrd experienced the death of a parent more often than non-Hispanic and white children.

“I didn't even know that many minority kids or black children, in general, lost that many parents,” Byrd said.

Last year Christopher’s stepdaughter, Byrd, said all she wants is for people to consider others as we continue to fight this virus.

"It's changed my life dramatically,” Byrd said. “Yes, it is an insult when people don't take seriously, when they don't wear their mask, when they don't wash their hands, when they don't stay six feet part, it's kind of insult."

As both girls work to navigate life without their parents, Madison Segura said it’s a reminder to never take life for granted.

“It's one person not here it just felt like somebody was missing and it was my dad,” Madison Segura said.

She said you can prevent losing a loved one by simply doing your part to protect yourself and others.

RELATED: Southeast Texas parents excited, hesitant about Biden administration vaccine plan for children

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