On Sunday, the U.S. stood on the verge of a once-unthinkable tally: the coronavirus lost 500,000 people. After the pandemic, the total number of lives lost was about 498,000 a year, roughly the population of Kansas City, Missouri, and just shy of the size of Atlanta. Johns Hopkins University’s compiled figure surpasses the number of people who died of chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, flu, and pneumonia combined in 2019.
The U.S. virus death toll reached 400,000 on January 19, in the waning hours at the office of President Donald Trump, whose handling of the crisis was judged by public health experts to be a singular failure,
Early February 2020, both of them in Santa Clara County, California, were the first known deaths from the virus in the U.S. It took four months for the first 100,000 dead to arrive. In September, the toll hit 200,000 fatalities and 300,000 in December. It then took just over a month to go from 300,000 to 400,000 and in about two months to climb from 400,000 to the brink of 500,000.
Among the innumerable Americans who lost family members during the pandemic is Joyce Willis of Las Vegas. Her husband, Anthony Willis, died on Dec. 28, and her mother-in-law followed her early in January.
“They have disappeared. Your loved one has disappeared, but you are still alive,’ said Willis. “It’s like every morning you still have to get up. You’ve got to look after your children and make a living. There isn’t any way around that. You have to just move on.
Then came a nightmare scenario of taking care of her father-in-law while dealing with grief, organising funerals, paying bills, helping her kids navigate internet school, and figuring out how to return to work as an occupational therapist.
The virus was also contracted by her father-in-law, a vet from Vietnam. He suffered from respiratory problems as well and passed away on Feb. 8. If COVID-19 contributed to his death, the family isn’t sure.
According to Johns Hopkins, the worldwide death toll has approached 2.5 million.
Although the count is based on figures provided by government agencies around the world, it is believed that the real death toll is significantly higher, partly due to inadequate testing and cases early on inaccurately attributed to other causes.
In spite of efforts to administer coronavirus vaccines, a widely cited model by the University of Washington projects the U.S. death toll will exceed 589,000 by June 1.
“People are going to talk about this for decades and decades and decades to come,” Fauci said on NBC on “Meet The Press”