The United States moved closer to 500,000 coronavirus deaths on Sunday, a “devastating” milestone that reflects how COVID-19 has devastated the United States far worse than any other country. “It‘s terrible. It‘s historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this in over a hundred years since the 1918 influenza pandemic,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“It’s something that’s amazing when you look at the numbers, almost unbelievable, but it’s true,” added Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert. “This is a devastating pandemic and it is historic. People will talk about this in decades and decades and decades from now. “As of Sunday night, 498,879 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That is about twice as many deaths. than the next most affected country, Brazil, which has about 247,000 deaths. About 2.5 million people have died worldwide, according to Hopkins data. Overall, the US has had more than 28.1 million cases, also by far the largest number in the world, almost three times the total in India and Brazil. More than 111.3 million people have been infected worldwide. The number of deaths in the United States is expected to exceed officially 500,000 sometime Monday. The death toll is much higher than the government‘s predictions last March, when the Trump administration estimated there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths. The first known deaths from coronavirus in the US occurred just over a year ago, in February 2020 in Santa Clara County in California. It took until the end of May to reach the 100,000 death milestone and until September to reach 200,000. By mid-December, 300,000 had died in the United States, and that number reached 400,000 by the end of January. Over the past year, COVID-19 has killed approximately one in 670 Americans. While coronavirus cases are declining dramatically as more people get vaccinated, Fauci said now is not the time to relax. “The slope of the downward trajectory is really very good and very impressive,” Fauci told Fox News in a separate interview Sunday. “The only thing we don’t want to do is feel satisfied that the situation is going down so sharply that we are now out of the woods because we are still on a daily infection baseline that is quite problematic. Despite the grim milestone, optimism advances. With vaccine dose delivery limitations lowered, the Biden administration seeks to direct its efforts toward delivering injections at a faster rate, with the goal of vaccinating all eligible adults by late summer. The White House said Biden will deliver remarks late Monday in memory of those who died in the pandemic. He and the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will observe a moment of silence and light candles during a ceremony at the White House.