A year into the pandemic began, around 498,000 people died – roughly the population of Kansas City, Missouri, and just under the size of Atlanta.
The USA stood on Sunday on the verge of a once unthinkable record: 500,000 people lost to the corona virus.
A year into the pandemic began, around 498,000 people died – roughly the population of Kansas City, Missouri, and just under the size of Atlanta. The number compiled by Johns Hopkins University surpasses the number of people who died in 2019 from chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, flu, and pneumonia.
“It’s nothing we’ve been through in the 102 years since the 1918 pandemic influenza,” said the country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on CNN’s State of the Union.
The US virus death toll hit 400,000 on Jan. 19 during the faltering tenure of President Donald Trump, whose management of the crisis has been classified as a unique failure by public health experts.
The first known deaths from the virus in the United States occurred in early February 2020, both in Santa Clara County, California. It took four months to reach the first 100,000 dead. The toll resulted in 200,000 deaths in September and 300,000 in December. Then it took a little over a month to go from 300,000 to 400,000 and about two months to go from 400,000 to 500,000.
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Joyce Willis of Las Vegas is among the countless Americans who have lost family members during the pandemic. Her husband Anthony Willis died on December 28th, followed by her mother-in-law in early January.
There were anxious calls from the intensive care unit when her husband was hospitalized. She couldn’t see him before he died because she too had the virus and couldn’t visit him.
“They’re gone. Your loved one is gone, but you’re still alive,” said Willis. “It’s like you have to get up every morning. You have to look after your children and make a living. There’s no getting around that. You. You just have to go on. “
Then came a nightmare scenario where she looked after her father-in-law, dealt with grief, arranged funerals, paid bills, helped her kids navigate online school, and figure out how to get back to work as an occupational therapist.
Her father-in-law, a Vietnam vet, also contracted the virus. He also suffered from breathing problems and died on February 8th. The family is unsure whether COVID-19 contributed to his death.
“Some days I’m fine and other days I feel strong and I can do it,” she said. “And on other days it just hits me. My whole world is upside down.”
The global death toll approached 2.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins.
While the count is based on numbers provided by government agencies around the world, the real death toll is believed to be significantly higher, partly due to inadequate testing and cases that were inaccurately attributed to other causes early on .
Despite efforts to deliver coronavirus vaccines, the US death toll will exceed 589,000 by June 1, according to a widely used University of Washington model.
“People will be talking about it for decades and decades and decades,” Fauci said on NBC’s Meet The Press.
Associate press writer Heather Hollingsworth of Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.