The United States stood on the brink of a once unthinkable tally on Sunday: 500,000 people lost to coronavirus.
A year after the start of the pandemic, the total number of lives lost was around 498,000 people, roughly the population of Kansas City, Missouri, and slightly less than the size of Atlanta. The figure compiled by Johns Hopkins University exceeds the number of people who died in 2019 from chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, influenza and pneumonia combined.
“This is nothing like what we’ve been through for the past 102 years, since the 1918 influenza pandemic,” the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr Anthony Fauci, said on “The State Union “from CNN.
The death toll from the virus in the United States reached 400,000 on January 19 in the last hours in power of President Donald Trump, whose handling of the crisis was deemed by public health experts to be a singular failure.
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 death toll reached 200,000 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.
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 28, followed by her stepmother in early January.
There were anxious calls from the intensive care unit when her husband was hospitalized. She could not see him before his death because she too had the virus and could not visit him.
“They are gone. Your loved one is gone, but you are still alive,” said Willis. “It is like you have to get up every morning. You have to take care of your children and make a living. There’s no getting around it, you just have to move on.
Then came a nightmarish scenario of caring for her stepfather while facing grief, planning a funeral, paying her bills, helping her kids navigate online school, and figuring out how to get back to school. work as an occupational therapist.
Her stepfather, a veterinarian from Vietnam, also contracted the virus. He also suffered from respiratory problems and died on February 8. The family are not sure COVID-19 contributed to his death.
“Some days I feel good and other days I feel strong and I can do it,” she said. “And other days it hits me. My world is turned upside down.”
The worldwide death toll was approaching 2.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins.
Although the tally is based on figures provided by government agencies around the world, the actual death toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part due to inadequate testing and cases wrongly attributed to other causes early on.
Despite efforts to administer the coronavirus vaccines, a model widely cited by the University of Washington predicts that the death toll in the United States will exceed 589,000 by June 1.
“People will be talking about those decades, decades and decades from now,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet The Press”.
Associated Press editor Heather Hollingsworth of Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.