More than 400,000 people in the United States with the coronavirus have died, according to data compiled by The New York Times on Tuesday, as the anniversary of the country’s first known death in the pandemic approaches.
The rate at which Americans are dying accelerated during the fall and winter, reaching record levels in January. For a few weeks this month, the average daily death toll exceeded 3,300, more than the number killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tuesday’s heartbreaking milestone came a day after the United States surpassed 24 million total cases.
The deadliest day in the pandemic to date was January 12, when more than 4,400 deaths were reported. Unlike the early days of the outbreak in the United States, which was concentrated in a handful of major cities, mostly in the northeast, this surge is widespread. Arizona, California, South Carolina, New York and Oklahoma had reported the most new cases per capita in the previous week on Monday. Much of the latest wave has been attributed to the gathering of people over the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Years Eve.
The time taken to record each 100,000 deaths has dramatically decreased since the nation’s first known death from Covid-19, which occurred in Santa Clara County, Calif., On February 6, 2020. The first 100,000 deaths in the United States were confirmed by May 27; it then took the nation four months to register an additional 100,000 deaths; the next, about three months; the last, only five weeks.
Public health experts don’t expect death rates to peak until the end of the month. By the end of February, the death toll could reach 500,000, a figure that would have seemed unthinkable a year ago. Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, estimated in March that up to 240,000 Americans could lose their lives, a huge figure that is still far from the reality.
The United States has recorded more deaths from the virus than any other country in the world. In total, New York alone recorded over 40,000
death. In all, more than two million people have died from the virus worldwide, a number which is almost certainly an undercount.
Responsibility for the huge loss of American lives, many experts say, lies in the failed leadership of President Trump, whose administration politicized the use of masks and left states to implement a patchwork of inconsistent measures who have not controlled the virus.
“It’s not that he was just incompetent,” said Jeffrey Shaman, a Columbia University professor of environmental health sciences who modeled the spread of the virus. “He made something that could very easily have turned into a point of patriotism, pride and national unity – protecting your neighbors, protecting your loved ones, protecting your community – into a matter of division, as he has. habit, and it cost people their lives. “
By comparison, Vietnam, a nation of 97 million people, has only confirmed 35 virus-related deaths, Dr Shaman added.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., due to be inaugurated on Wednesday, called for an aggressive national strategy to defeat the virus, including increasing the availability of Covid-19 vaccines, although he has not committed to a federal government. mandate mask.
“You have my word that we will handle the hell of this operation,” Biden said Friday, pointing to the disproportionately deadly consequences of the virus for blacks, Latin Americans and Native Americans. “Our administration will lead with science and scientists.”
With the virus that has been rampant everywhere for so many months, hospitals have been stretched. In rural areas, doctors have sometimes been unable to transfer seriously ill patients to larger medical centers for more sophisticated treatment.
As of Monday, the seven-day average of cases in the United States was 200,000 per day, although it has started to decline in recent weeks. Hospitalizations have finally started to stabilize and hit their lowest level since January 2 on Sunday. In the Midwest, hit by its worst surge in the fall, the number of cases has fallen sharply in recent weeks, but that increase appears to be slowing.
However, new variants of the virus, some of which make it more transmissible, could soon spread and threaten to increase infections again.
“There is no clear end in sight in the near future,” said Ira M. Longini Jr., professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.