The first COVID-19 deaths in the US took place in February, in California and Washington state. On Saturday afternoon, data from Johns Hopkins University show, the toll hit 331,116. That means 1 in 1,000 Americans have died of the illness, CNN reports. The US average is 1,000 deaths per day. The deaths added up quickly after the first infection was confirmed in January; by late May, 100,000 Americans had died. The number of infections in the US has now surpassed 18.7 million. There's little indication of slowing so far. December has the highest US death toll of the year, per CNN, more than 63,000. And health officials expect a surge possibly lasting into February following holiday gatherings, though the Centers for Disease Control and prevention had asked Americans to avoid traveling.
Onondaga County, New York, recorded a dozen COVID-19 deaths on Christmas Day alone, per Syracuse.com. In discussing overall coronavirus trends, the county executive posted online, "It is tough to talk about the positives when we lose 12 neighbors." The dean of Baylor's medical school said, "None of this has to happen," per CNN. "We have the ability to stop these deaths, getting vaccines out, keeping masks on, social distancing. We just have to get everyone to hang in there a few more weeks." People have to be patient to allow time for the coronavirus vaccines to be distributed and take effect, other health experts said. Otherwise, January will be brutal. "The projections are just nightmarish," the Baylor expert said. (Read more COVID-19 stories.)