At least half a million people have now died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Although the coronavirus vaccine rollout promises fewer cases and lower death tolls soon, the rate of deaths is still high; the last 100,000 deaths occurred in just over a month.
Half a million deaths – by far the highest death toll of any country – equates to about 1 in 650 Americans dying from a disease that has circulated in the country for almost a year. The number of deaths equals the entire population of Atlanta, Miami or Kansas City, Missouri.
“More Americans have died in a single year from this pandemic than in World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “On this solemn occasion, we reflect on their loss and their loved ones left behind.”
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses will lead a minute of silence at the White House Monday at sunset and invite all Americans to participate. The president also ordered that all flags fly halfway on all public buildings and land.
South Carolina is the latest outbreak of COVID-19, with the state reporting one of the highest case rates in days. At the end of January, it was the first place in the United States to report the presence of a variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa, which appears to be around 50% more transmissible than previous strains.
The disease continues to have a disproportionate effect on non-white Americans. Blacks, Latinxes, and Native Americans are each about two to two and a half times more likely than whites to die from the virus.
However, reasons for hope have emerged. The United States records an average of 81,000 new cases per day, the lowest since early November. The rate of immunization of people, which got off to a rocky start at the end of last year, practically doubled last month.
Biden recently announced that hundreds of millions of additional vaccines are due to arrive in the United States sooner than expected, putting the country on track to have enough doses for almost the entire population by July.
“That might not sound like the urgent progress we need, but let’s be clear: When I took office just three weeks ago, this country had no plan,” Biden told the era, referring to the missteps of former President Donald Trump. national response to the pandemic.
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