The U.S. coronavirus death toll was over 300,000 on Monday, just as the country began releasing COVID-19 footage in a monumental campaign to overcome the outbreak.
The number of dead rivals is comparable to the population of St. Louis or Pittsburgh. It is tantamount to repeating a tragedy on the hurricane Katrina scale every day for 5 1/2 months. It’s more than five times the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War. It equates to a 9/11 attack every day for more than 100 days.
“The numbers are astonishing – the most profound respiratory pandemic we’ve seen in more than 102 years, since the iconic Spanish flu in 1918,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, days before the milestone.
The US crossed the threshold on the same day that health professionals roll up their sleeves for Pfizer’s COVID-19 injection, kicking off the largest vaccination campaign in US history. If a second vaccine is approved soon, as expected, 20 million people could be vaccinated by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, a major change in Washington is fast approaching after an election that was in large part a referendum on the Trump administration’s handling of the virus. President-elect Joe Biden has made it clear that his first priority will be a comprehensive and disciplined effort to defeat the outbreak.
The death toll was reported by Johns Hopkins University based on data provided by health authorities in the US. The actual number of lives lost is believed to be much higher, in part because of deaths that were not accurately recorded as coronavirus-related during the early stages of the crisis.
Worldwide, the virus is blamed for more than 1.6 million deaths.
Experts say it could be well into spring for the shots and other measures to bring cases and deaths in the US under control
With cold weather driving people in, where the virus spreads more easily, and many Americans disdainful of masks and other precautions, some public health authorities predict that 100,000 more could die before the end of January.
“We are probably going into the worst period because of all the things we had in the spring, namely fatigue, political backlash, maybe the loss of all the good we had about people doing their part,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a public health researcher at Johns Hopkins.
Nuzzo contrasted the government’s absent-minded response to the massive mobilization undertaken after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“Now that we consider that in our country we can deal with 3,000 deaths a day as if it were just business as usual, it is just a moral failure,” she said.