The United States semi-officially marks its 1 million COVID-19 deaths this week, and President Biden ordered flag lowered to half pole to mark the solemn occasion. In fact, the United States almost certainly exceeded one million COVID deaths months ago, with the formal recognition of the sharp threshold that comes at a time when coronavirus and its perpetually mutating variants are no longer at the center of American life.
Effective vaccines and treatments have deprived COVID-19 of much of its sting. And a growing number of Americans are “done” with the pandemic. So how do we deal with this grim milestone?
Where does this rank among American tragedies?
When the pandemic hit the United States in February 2020, “few of us imagined the overwhelming scale of this tragedy: More than 1 million lost lives, far surpassing the flu pandemic of 1918 or even the United States’ most deadly conflict, the Civil War,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta said on CNN. And each of these deaths leaves a hole “that may never completely heal.”
COVID is now third largest killer in the United Statesbehind only heart disease and cancer, “and” life expectancy for Americans has declined over the past two years at the sharpest rate since the double incident of World War I and the influenza pandemic of 1918. ” Washington Post reports. “One million is how many people live in San Jose, California or Austin, Texas, or in Montgomery County, Maryland. Or Westchester County, New York. That’s more people than live in the six smallest states or DC, roughly. as many as live in Delaware or Rhode Island. “
Who are the dead?
The people who died, “fall into clear patterns,” that Post reports: “Those killed by COVID were mostly old; disproportionately low-income, black or Hispanic; and overwhelmingly unvaccinated. People who did not get the shot were 53.2 times more likely to die than fully vaccinated and boosted people.”
And while we mourn these 1 million lives, “there is a far greater number that reflects the true impact this virus has had on Americans over the past two years,” Post adds. This number, called the death multiplier, “is 9 million – the number of Americans who have lost spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings and children to COVID.” About “250,000 children have lost parents or caregivers to COVID-19,” New York Times reports. “Of those, nearly 200,000 have lost one or both parents.”
One million COVID deaths means “1 million empty chairs around the dinner table,” Biden said in his presidential proclamation. “Each an irreplaceable loss. Each leaves a family, a community and a nation forever changed because of this pandemic.” Biden said he knows “the pain of the black hole in your heart. It’s relentless. But I also know that those you love are never really gone. They will always be with you.”
Where does the US rank in deaths?
The United States is No. 1 in total registered deaths, and it is not even close. Brazil, in second place in this dismal race, has around 660,000 confirmed COVID deaths. “Americans have died of COVID at a faster rate than in any other major industrialized country,” that Post reports. Per capita, Peru has the most recorded COVID deaths worldwide, while the United States is at 18. It writes NBC News.
Was this level of death expected?
The early forecasts were all over the map. An early influential model from Imperial College London, published March 16, 2020, predicted about 2.2 million COVID deaths in the United States, but it did not require any coordinated pandemic response. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated around the same time that 1.5 Americans would die from COVID-19, although their projections ranged from 200,000 to 1.7 million, that Times reporteddepending on the transmissibility and severity of the new virus, and what steps, if any, were taken to limit the spread.
What went wrong?
“The majority is far higher than most people could have imagined in the early days of the pandemic, especially because then-President Donald Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus while in office,” calling it a “hoax” and then a seasonal mistake. which would disappear in warmer weather, NBC News reports. At the same time, “more than half of U.S. COVID deaths have occurred since President Joe Biden was installed in January 2021.”
“For me, the big calculation was that we have not really come to a real national dialogue about what happened after May 1, 2021,” when “the White House announced that there are as many COVID vaccines as any American , who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated, “Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Narrator Politics. “We lost another 200,000-300,000 Americans after that date,” and almost all of these people would be alive if they had been vaccinated.
“We were very encouraged by the rapid development of the vaccines, and everyone really thought we would get vaccinated out of this,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, CEO of Northwestern’s Havey Institute for Global Health, tells NBC News. “But then we had people who would not even take the damn vaccine.”
“And I think it should be at the center,” said Hotez. “That there are no accidental deaths. The people who lost their lives and died after May 1 were themselves victims of anti-scientific aggression,” and “the redder the county measured by Trump voters in the 2020 election, the higher was the vaccine rejection. and the greater loss of life. ” And “everyone is afraid to talk about it because it’s very uncomfortable to have to point out that these deaths took place along such a strict biased line,” he added. “Even the White House will not talk about it that way.”
Steven Ho, an emergency room technician in Los Angeles who stopped during the pandemic to try his hand at comedy, said the changing guidelines for public health from the CDC and the fights over masks made the public confused. “We just did not do a good job,” he told NBC News.
Is the pandemic really over?
About 350 Americans still die from COVID-19 every day on average, according to Washington Post data. It’s much lower than the pandemic’s most deadly waves, with 3,300 people dying every day in January 2021, but that’s nothing.
“As a nation, we must not become numb from such grief,” said Bidenand “we must remain vigilant in the face of this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have done with more tests, vaccines and treatments than ever before.”
Is it the worst behind us now at least?
Hopefully, but the virus has increased and failed expectations before. In March, Biden asked Congress for $ 22.5 billion in emergency funds to prepare for the next wave of infections and the next pandemic, but Congress cut it down to $ 10 billion, and Senate Republicans even block the smaller amount.
The $ 10 billion “greatly reduced” request is “the absolute minimum we need to get through this fall and winter without major casualties,” Covid-19 White House coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha tells Associated Press. The White House predicts that 100 million people could be infected with one of the new varieties in the autumn, and the next generation of vaccines “will provide a much, much higher level of protection against the virus we will encounter” on in the fall and winter, “Jha said, but only if we get in line in the near future.
Before we reach autumn, “we will have another wave over the summer,” and the upcoming dominant BA.2.12.1 strain is “so transferable, all you have to do is give a dirty look to that subvariant and you will be infected ” said Hotez. “And we’ll need an ongoing amount of Paxlovid, for example. I mean, why am I talking to you right now? I’m talking to you right now, because I’m the recipient of Paxlovid, which I’m on right now, and I “Enjoying my second booster. And while it’s not ideal to ask Americans to keep boostering, it will still be important.”