Dec 15, 2021 - Health

U.S. COVID death toll tops 800,000

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress participate in a moment of silence for the 800,000 American lives lost to COVID-19. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The recorded number of coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 800,000 on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Why it matters: The figure comes amid fear that the newly-discovered Omicron variant, which was detected in the U.S. earlier this month, may drive up cases further. The U.S. went from 700,000 deaths to 800,000 in just over two months.

  • A senior Biden administration official said Tuesday that data concerning the new variant likely indicates a "large wave" of infections is coming, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.
  • The U.S. currently has the highest reported death toll of any country, per data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • More than 200,000 of the lives lost came after the vaccine had become widely available in the spring, per AP.

What they're saying: "I know what it’s like to stare at an empty chair around the kitchen table, especially during the holiday season, and my heart aches for every family enduring this pain," President Biden said in a statement on Tuesday.

  • "As we head into the winter and confront a new variant, we must resolve to keep fighting this virus together. This means getting vaccinated and getting your booster shot, and taking other prevention measures, such as masking."
  • "I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honor the memory of all those we have lost," he added.
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