The United States officially surpassed 500,000 coronavirus deaths Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University, a total nearly equal to American deaths in World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined and the highest total of any country in the world.
The nation’s most recent 100,000 deaths were recorded in just 34 days following a winter surge of the virus that led to record daily case counts, hospitalizations and deaths. The new total follows the CDC’s announcement that last year was the deadliest in American history and that U.S. life expectancy dropped a full year in 2020’s first six months.
Experts have also warned against more contagious variants which have spread throughout the country in recent weeks, some of which may be more resistant to the vaccines, recent studies have shown. (RELATED: Moderna Says Its Vaccine Is Effective Against Coronavirus Variants, But Could Be Less Effective Against South African Strain)
Dr. Anthony Facui warned on Sunday that cases could still spike in the future, and that masks may still be required in 2022 unless the virus is “down to a baseline that’s so low there is virtually no threat.”
Despite the winter spike in cases, recent weeks have seen a dramatic fall in infections, coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. There were approximately 58,000 new cases on Sunday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, down from 72,000, 95,000 and 119,000 one, two and three weeks ago.
At the same time, the rate at which Americans have received coronavirus vaccines has risen, with as many as 2.2 million Americans receiving a shot in a single day, according to the CDC. The U.S. has also averaged nearly 1.5 million daily vaccinations, and over 43.5 million Americans have received at least one dose.
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