A Year After First US COVID Case, Death Toll Tops 400K

It passed 300K just 5 weeks ago
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2021 3:47 PM CST
US COVID Death Toll Reaches 400K
COVID-19 vaccination tents are set up in the north of the Toy Story parking lot at the Disneyland Resort on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif.   (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)

On President Trump's final full day in office, the US passed yet another bleak milestone in the pandemic. The official death toll rose above 400,000, less than five weeks after it topped 300,000. The death total—which the AP notes is around the size of the populations of Tulsa, Tampa, or New Orleans—comes almost exactly a year after the first US coronavirus case was confirmed. With the daily death toll averaging more than 3,000, the US death toll is expected to exceed that of World War II by the end of the week, making the pandemic the third-deadliest event in US history, after the Civil War and the 1918 flu pandemic. USA Today reports that on Jan. 12, Americans were dying from COVID at the rate of one every 19 seconds—faster than the death rate among Allied soldiers on D-Day.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, says hospitals were braced for a grim winter, but this is even worse than expected. "It's very hard to wrap your mind around a number that is so large, particularly when we've had 10 months of large numbers assaulting our senses and really, really horrific images coming out of our hospitals and our morgues," she tells NPR. Some health experts say the Trump administration's mishandling of the pandemic led to many deaths that could have been avoided. "Everything about how it’s been managed has been infused with incompetence and dishonesty, and we’re paying a heavy price," Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, tells the AP. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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