The US death toll from COVID-19 passed 1 million on Monday, a once unimaginable figure that only left crowds of loved ones and friends trembling with grief and despair.
The confirmed death toll is equivalent to the 9/11 attacks every day for 336 days. This is roughly equal to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s like Boston and Pittsburgh have been wiped out.
“It’s hard to imagine a million people off this earth,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, who leads a new epidemiology center at Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island. “It’s still happening and we’re letting it happen.”
Some people left behind say they cannot return to normalcy. They replay voicemail messages from their loved ones. Or watch old videos to see them dance. When others say they have got the virus, they are filled with anger or pain in silence.
“‘General.’ I hate that word,” said Julie Wallace, 55, of Elyria, Ohio, who lost her husband to COVID-19 in 2020. “We all never get to go back to normal. “
three out of every four deaths There were people 65 years of age and older. More men died than women. White people made up the majority of deaths overall. But black, Hispanic and Native American people are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than their white counterparts.
Most of the deaths occurred in urban areas, but in rural areas – where opposition to masks and vaccinations is high – at times there has been a heavy price.
Deaths under 2 1/2 years old in an outbreak are based on death certificate data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. But the actual number of people who have lost their lives to COVID-19, either directly or indirectly as a result of the disruption of the health care system in the world’s richest country, is thought to be much higher.
The milestone comes more than three months after the US reached 900,000 dead. The pace has slowed since the winter surge due to the Omicron variant. There are an average of about 300 COVID-19 deaths per day in the US, compared to a peak of about 3,400 per day in January 2021.
The largest bell at Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital rang 1,000 times a week ago, once for every 1,000 deaths. President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered flags to be taken down at half-staff and called each life “an irreparable loss.”
“As a nation, we should not be intimidated by such misery,” he said in a statement., “In order to heal, we must remember.”
More than half the deaths occurred since the vaccine became available in December of 2020. Two-thirds of Americans are fully vaccinated, and about half of them have received at least one booster dose. But the demand for a vaccine has dwindled, and the weapon-laying campaign has been plagued by misinformation, mistrust and political polarization.
According to the CDC, unvaccinated people have a 10-fold higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who are fully vaccinated.
“For me, that’s what’s especially heartwarming,” Nuzzo said. He added that the vaccines are safe and significantly reduce the chances of serious illness. They “substantially remove the possibility of death.”
Angelina Proya, 36, from New York, lost her father to COVID-19 in April 2020. She runs a support group for bereaved families on Facebook and has seen it divided over vaccination. He has booted the people of the group for spreading misinformation.
“I don’t want to hear conspiracy theories. I don’t want to hear anti-science,” said Proia, who wishes her father could be vaccinated.
Sarah Atkins, 42, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, channeled her grief for global immunization and better access to health care to honor her father, Andy Rotman-Zaid, who died of COVID-19 in December 2020.
Atkins said of the pandemic, “My father gave me marching orders to end it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” “They told me, ‘If I die from this, politicize the hell out of my death.'”
Julie Wallace and her husband, Louise Dunlop, had cellphone numbers other than one digit. She continues to pay to have her number. She calls him just to hear his voice.
“It’s so important to hear that sometimes,” she said. “It also gives you a little bit of reassurance while your heart rumbles.”
Some have provided solace in poetry. In Philadelphia, poet and social activist Trappeta Mason created a 24-hour poetry hotline called Healing Verses., Traffic.org website on the website of the Academy of American Poets Rose during the pandemic.
Poet laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace from West Hollywood, California, travels the country writing poems for hire, He envisions a monument to a million poems written by people who do not normally write poetry. They talked to people who are grieving and listened to points of connection.
“We need empathy as a nation,” said Tanya Alves, 35, of Weston, Florida, who lost her 24-year-old sister to COVID-19 in October. “More than two years into the pandemic, all cases and lives are lost. With the loss, we should be more kind and respectful when talking about COVID. Thousands of families changed forever. This virus is not just a cold.”
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