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COVID claims 1 million US lives

NEW YORK – The United States has now recorded more than 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to a tally by Reuters, crossing a once unthinkable milestone about two years after the first cases upended and quickly transformed everyday life .

The 1 million mark is a stark reminder of the incredible sadness and loss caused by the pandemic, even as the threat of the virus is fading in many people’s minds. It equates to about one death for every 327 Americans, or more than the entire population of San Francisco or Seattle.

When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, the virus had claimed 36 lives in the United States. In the months that followed, the deadly virus spread like wildfire, finding fertile ground in densely populated urban areas like New York City and then reaching every corner of the country.

By June 2020, the US death toll had surpassed the country’s total military deaths in World War I, and it would surpass American military losses in World War II by January 2021, when more than 405,000 deaths were recorded.

The disease has left few places on earth untouched, with 6.7 million confirmed deaths worldwide. The true number of victims, including those who died from COVID-19 as well as those who died as an indirect result of the outbreak, was probably closer to 15 million, the WHO said.

The medical ship USNS Comfort travels up the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty as it arrives in New York March 30, 2020.
The medical ship USNS Comfort travels up the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty as it arrives in New York March 30, 2020.
AFP via Getty Images

Some of the images associated with COVID deaths are forever etched in Americans’ collective memory: refrigerated trucks parked outside hospitals, overflowing with the dead; intubated patients in sealed off intensive care units; exhausted doctors and nurses who have struggled through every wave of the virus.

Millions of Americans eagerly rolled up their sleeves to receive COVID vaccines after distribution began in late 2020. By early 2021, the virus had already claimed a staggering 500,000 lives.

At one point in January this year, on average, more people were dying each day from COVID-19 than were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A crematorium operator pushes a cremation box wrapped in a US national flag containing the body of a veteran who died from Covid-19 to an incinerator.
A crematorium operator pushes a cremation box wrapped in a US national flag containing the body of a veteran who died from Covid-19 to an incinerator.
AFP via Getty Images

COVID-19 preyed on the elderly and the disabled, but it didn’t spare healthy youth either, killing more than 1,000 children. Researchers estimate that 213,000 US children have lost at least one parent or primary caregiver during the pandemic, which has taken an immeasurable emotional toll.

While nesting in major cities, the coronavirus has also devastated rural communities with limited access to medical care.

The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American and communities of color. It hit harder where people lived in congregational environments like prisons, decimating entire families. It exposed deep-rooted inequalities in US society and unleashed a wave of change that affected most aspects of life in the United States.

As the COVID-19 threat eased after last winter’s Omicron surge, many Americans have shed their masks and returned to offices in recent weeks. Restaurants and bars are once again teeming with patrons, and public attention has shifted to inflation and economic concerns.

A biohazard sign is visible on the body of a Covid-19 victim in a coffin at the Stauffer Funeral Homes in Frederick, Maryland.
A biohazard sign is visible on the body of a Covid-19 victim in a coffin at the Stauffer Funeral Homes in Frederick, Maryland.
AFP via Getty Images

But researchers are already working on another booster shot as the virus continues to mutate.

“It’s by no means over,” said leading US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, at a recent event. “We are still experiencing a global pandemic.”

ON THE TRACK OF THE PANDEMIC

Tracking the COVID-19 pandemic is not an exact science. Reuters and the other organizations that do tally hit 1 million deaths in the US at different times. The variance is due to how each organization counts COVID deaths. For example, Reuters includes both confirmed and probable deaths where that data is available.

The exact toll of the pandemic may never really be known. Some people who died while infected were never tested and do not appear in the data. Others, while ill with COVID-19, may have died from another cause, such as cancer, but were still counted.

The CDC estimates there have been more than 1.1 million deaths since February 1, 2020, mostly from COVID. Excess mortality is the increase in the total number of deaths from any cause compared to previous years.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/12/covid-claims-1-million-us-lives/ COVID claims 1 million US lives

JACLYN DIAZ

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