US COVID Death Toll Officially Hits 1M

Toll equals Civil War, WWII deaths combined
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2022 5:01 PM CDT
US COVID Deaths Hit 1M
A mobile COVID-19 testing van is open for walk-in clients in the Brooklyn borough of New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The US death toll from COVID-19 hit 1 million on Monday, a once-unimaginable figure that only hints at the multitudes of loved ones and friends staggered by grief and frustration. The confirmed number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days, the AP reports. It is roughly equal to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s as if Boston and Pittsburgh were wiped out. "It is hard to imagine a million people plucked from this earth," says Jennifer Nuzzo, who leads a new pandemic center at the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island. "It's still happening and we are letting it happen.”

The death toll is based on death certificate data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. But the real number of lives lost to COVID-19, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the disruption of the health care system in the world's richest country, is believed to be far higher. Three out of every four deaths were people 65 and older. More men died than women. White people made up most of the deaths overall. But Black, Hispanic, and Native American people have been roughly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as their white counterparts. Most deaths happened in urban areas, but rural places—where opposition to masks and vaccinations tends to run high—paid a heavy price at times.

The US has the highest reported COVID-19 death toll of any country, though health experts have long suspected that the real number of deaths in places such as India, Brazil and Russia is higher than the official figures. The milestone comes more than three months after the US reached 900,000 dead. The pace has slowed since a harrowing winter surge fueled by the omicron variant and the US is now averaging about 300 COVID-19 deaths per day. The largest bell at Washington National Cathedral in the nation's capital tolled 1,000 times a week ago, once for every 1,000 deaths. On Thursday, President Biden ordered flags lowered to half-staff. "As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow," he said in a statement. "To heal, we must remember." (More COVID-19 stories.)

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