The U.S. death toll from Covid-19 topped 800,000 on Tuesday, a once-unimaginable figure seen as doubly tragic, given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became available practically for the asking last spring.
The number of deaths, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Atlanta and St. Louis combined, or Minneapolis and Cleveland put together. It is roughly equivalent to how many Americans die each year from heart disease or stroke.
The United States has the highest reported toll of any country. The U.S. accounts for approximately 4 percent of the world’s population but about 15 percent of the 5.3 million known deaths from the coronavirus since the outbreak began in China two years ago.
The true death toll in the U.S. and around the world is believed to significantly higher because of cases that were overlooked or concealed.
A closely watched forecasting model from the University of Washington projects a total of over 880,000 reported deaths in the U.S. by March 1.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday noted what he called a “tragic milestone.” He again called on unvaccinated Americans to get shots for themselves and their children, and urged the vaccinated to get booster shots.
“I urge all Americans: do your patriotic duty to keep our country safe, to protect yourself and those around you, and to honor the memory of all those we have lost,” Biden said. “Now is the time.”
Health experts lament that many of the deaths in the United States were especially heartbreaking because they were preventable by way of the vaccine, which became available in mid-December a year ago and was thrown open to all adults by mid-April of this year.