WASHINGTON — Covid-19 death toll in the United States surpassed the 500,000 mark on Monday, based on data from the Johns Hopkins University. By far the highest of any country in the world, with 20 percent of the nearly 2.5 million global deaths from coronavirus.
The number of deaths exceed the US death death toll from World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
A truly grim, heartbreaking milestone
President Joe Biden says the death toll is a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.”
“As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we’ve been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to sorrow,” Biden says during an emotional speech at the White House.
“I ask all Americans to remember, remember those we lost and those they left behind,” he says. “I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to stay socially distant, to mask up, to get vaccinated.”
Church bells rang 500 times at the National Cathedral in Washington to symbolize the 500,000 people who lost their lives during the pandemic. On the White House steps, 500 candles were lit to commemorate the dead as a military band played a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
President Biden has ordered all flags on federal properties and military facilities to be lowered to half-staff until Friday evening.
Political divisions contributed to “stunning” death toll
“Political divisions in the US had contributed to the “stunning” death toll, where even mask wearing has become a political statement, rather than a public health measure,” Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert says.
“Even under the best of circumstances, this would have been a very serious problem,” Fauci told the Reuters news agency.
“However, that does not explain how a rich and sophisticated country can have the most percentage of deaths and be the hardest-hit country in the world,” says.
Dropping number of cases and deaths
The number of new cases and deaths show a decreasing trend over the past several weeks despite the bleak milestone.
On 21 January, the seven-day average of US COVID-19 deaths reached 4,000. On 21 February, that average was 1,890, according to the COVID tracking project.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vaccination campaign in the US, which began in December, has covered a total of 64.2 million people. However, despite the dip in deaths and cases, and mass vaccination campaigns, a model from the University of Washington has predicted at least 90,000 more COVID-related deaths in the US by June. (JSM/JuanManila)
Featured image: US President Joe Biden and the First Lady.