Feb 22, 2021 - Health

Over 500,000 dead from coronavirus in U.S.

Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than half a million people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Why it matters: The death toll is larger than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. It comes just one year after the country's first coronavirus death was confirmed.

  • "Each death has left an empty space in communities across America: a bar stool where a regular used to sit, one side of a bed unslept in, a home kitchen without its cook," the New York Times' Julie Bosman writes.

The scale of the horrifying loss is hard to visualize.

  • If 500,000 names were listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the height of the structure would be 87 feet tall (instead of 10 feet), the Washington Post figures.
  • 1 person died of the coronavirus every 28 seconds in January, a Post analysis found.

What they're saying: “You see on the news, ‘X amount of people died,’ but it’s so much more than that,” Priscilla Morse, whose 6-year-old daughter died in August, told the Post.

  • "Do people see just how destroyed your family and your life is, six months later? Half-a-million families who’ve had their world torn apart?”
  • Sabila Khan, who lost her father last April, told NPR: "Every day is a milestone for me. These round numbers don't really mean anything to me. Every day is just as shocking."

Where it stands: Weekly vaccinations have risen as cases and hospitalizations are slowing significantly, even with the spread of new highly-transmissible variants. Deaths have been declining for two weeks, per the COVID Tracking Project.

  • NIAID director Anthony Fauci celebrated the steep decline as "really terrific" on Sunday, although he noted that the "baseline of daily infections is still very, very high."
  • A shipment of 6 million vaccines was delayed last week due to historic winter storms that ravaged Texas and froze much of Central U.S. Fauci described it as a "temporary setback" on Sunday and said 2 million delayed vaccines had been shipped.

Honoring the deceased: Flags will be lowered to half-staff on federal properties for five days, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.

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