(CNN)As the coronavirus' death toll in the U.S. surpasses 100,000 victims, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a moment to reflect on this tragic milestone and commemorate those we've lost.
Together, We Grieve: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's bonus coronavirus podcast for May 28
You can listen on your favorite podcast app or read the transcript below.
Amith Mooliya, son of Ananda Mooliya: My dad was a hardworking man.
Sonja Sanders, daughter of Doris Granderson: She was always the life of the party.
Tony Clomax, brother of John Herman Clomax, Jr: He was a great storyteller. Sometimes he stretched a little bit, you know, to make it more entertaining.
Alexis Fontaine, granddaughter of AnnMarie Thelma Robain: She was a kind person, a giving person. She loved to cook, she loved to travel and she loved her politics.
Fred Haggerty, Jr., son of Dr. Fred E. Haggerty: He always had a kind thing to say to somebody.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Yesterday, the number of people who have died from Covid-19 in the United States surpassed 100,000. Doesn't even feel like I can say that number out loud without getting a pit in my stomach.
I know you've probably heard this number by now, but please let that settle in for a minute.
Too often we see numbers on the screen, and we forget the real stories of people who are not here today because of this virus. We have known at least for the last few weeks that this tragic milestone would come, but it makes it no less painful.
Everyone's going to try and contextualize it, comparing the tragic number of deaths to past wars, terrorist attacks, plane crashes, natural disasters.
But one way this should not be described as is inevitable.
I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. And this is "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction."
Six months ago, most of the world had never even heard of this novel coronavirus, Covid-19. It was a virus that would change their whole lives.
Some people would develop a cough, a fever and then have a sudden decline. Some would require a breathing machine. Some never even made it to the hospital. Most dying alone.
Because of the brutal contagiousness of this virus, family members of the sick and dying could not even be there.
So here we are, left with memories and sadness and a sinking feeling that we could have done better.
And that's perhaps the most painful part of this whole thing. So many of these deaths could have been prevented. We saw countries around the world afflicted with the same disease around the same time and yet have a miniscule fraction of the infections and deaths of the United States.
Yes, South Korea. It is one-seventh the size of the United States. But they have had fewer than 300 people die total. Not 3,000, not 30,000, but fewer than 300. They didn't have a new magical therapy or a vaccine. They had nothing we didn't have. It was that they acted early, and we now know it made an exponential difference in lives saved.
About one in seven Americans now knows someone who has died from the coronavirus. I am one of them.
My friend Dr. James T. Goodrich, a truly gifted neurosurgeon. We first met when I was just a resident. It would be a couple decades before I got a chance to operate side by side with him during a groundbreaking operation separating the McDonald twins, little baby boys conjoined at the head.
Dr. Goodrich was considered the most experienced neurosurgeon in the world when it came to doing that operation. When he died due to Covid, we lost someone truly irreplaceable. The memory I'll always hold on to about him is his smiling eyes peeking out from his surgical mask, doing the thing that he loved more than anything else.
So let's honor the memory of the more than 100,000 lives lost by committing ourselves to taking this virus seriously.
I will go ahead and just say it: It sucks. What is happening right now is awful. Our country and the world have become infected. And now we are dealing with an illness so different than any illness ever experienced by someone living today. It is a once-in-a-century illness, and it sucks.
We don't know exactly why we were stricken with this illness at this time in our collective human history. But that doesn't mean we can't act.
We must act.