Discounted Deaths: The Eruption of COVID‐19 in the Geriatric System of the Community of Madrid


In this article, we explore a new category of analysis that we have called “discounted deaths,” with which we seek to examine forms of dying occurring outside the scope of the triple meaning of the term “to count”—i.e., deaths that did not count, deaths that were not counted, and deaths for which there was no account. To do this, we look at the empirical case of elderly people who died in Madrid’s nursing homes during the first wave of the pandemic, between March and May 2020. Compared to other affected groups, theirs were deaths that were deemed tolerable. People who died in nursing homes were first excluded from the assistance mechanisms available under the health emergency and then buried in solitude, away from their loved ones, who were not made aware of their situation until they were in their final moments. [coronavirus, death, account, old age, Madrid]

A scan of a medical document in Spanish.
Figure 1. Clinical history of an 83-year-old patient residing in a geriatric institution in the Community of Madrid, obtained during fieldwork conducted as part of the research. (Content obtained by the authors) [This figure appears in color in the online issue]