US Reaches 500K COVID-19 Deaths Milestone

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Day 332: Stay Safe Minnesota

To-day US reached 500,000 deaths milestone from COVID-19, a number too large to grasp for many Americans.

As the coronavirus pandemic death toll nears 500,000 milestones, many news outlets are highlighting the enormity of this tragic occasion with an interactive featured article, an unheard unfathomable toll in a most wealthier nation, and holding a candle lighting ceremony at the White House.

In the USA Today, Jorge L. Ortiz writes “Nearly a year into a life-altering pandemic, many Americans are fed up with wearing masks, desperate for a return to normalcy and numb to the relentless stream of grim numbers, such as the 500,000 COVID-19 deaths the USA is about to surpass.”

“There’s definitely some tangible fatigue on the health care workers’ side, being sick of COVID and sick of people disregarding public health guidance, getting sick and expecting us to defer another vacation or put off something else. I’ve been telling people who thank me for this, ‘Just tell yourself and everyone you know to wear a mask when you’re out in public places. Don’t clap, don’t give me baked goods. I don’t need any of that. I need you to wear a mask and not get COVID‘, ” an emergency room physician running a COVID-19 field hospital in Staten Island, New York, Eric Cioe-Peña told USA Today.

Too Large to Grasp a Number

In the Washington Post, Artur Galocha and Bonnie Berkowitz write the 500,000 deaths is a number to large to grasp. “It can be hard to grasp the enormity — almost half a million people, gone. What if we imagined them traveling as one group? Or killed in action? Or all buried together?”

Screenshot source: The Washington Post

“The 1918 flu pandemic killed about 675,000 people in the United States before the virus finally receded. We are still in the teeth of the current pandemic; it took less than five weeks to go from 400,000 dead to 500,000, and health officials have said the actual toll is probably higher.”

In the New York Times, Julie Bosman writes that for nation that is numbed by many miseries, confronting 500,000 deaths is ‘a number that still has the power to shock’.

No other country has counted so many deaths in the pandemic. More Americans have perished from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

Julie Bosman in The New York Times

Highlighting the enormity of this tragic moment and its ripple effect in our society, Julie Bosman writes “Each death has left untold numbers of mourners, a ripple effect of loss that has swept over towns and cities. Each death has left an empty space in communities across America: a bar stool where a regular used to sit, one side of a bed unslept in, a home kitchen without its cook.”

Symbolic Power of Half-Million

In the CNN, Stephen Collinson highlights “the symbolic power of the half a million figure” emphasizing the horror of the nightmare that seized the country a year ago.

“The current death toll of nearly 499,000 represents more than six average NFL stadiums worth of victims — in the days when carefree crowds could still pack into mass sporting events. Each is a grandparent, parent, son, daughter or sibling taken in a horrendous death toll — the world’s worst in the pandemic — almost equivalent to the combined US losses in two world wars.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) and told in a CNN’s “State of the Union” interview:

“It’s terrible, it’s really horrible. People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country, to have these many people to have died from a respiratory-borne infection.”

Dr. Fauci told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday that ‘it’s a staggering figure that did not have to be this high’.

“I believe that if you look back historically, we’ve done worse than most any other country and we’re a highly developed, rich country. It’s so tough to just go back and try and do a metaphorical autopsy on how things went. It was just bad.”

These are Not Just Numbers

Each of these successive milestone pandemic death numbers are “not just numbers” but are “fathers, mothers, sons, daughter, teachers, doctors” and are real people for the families of those who died of COVID-19. In the MPR News, Melissa Block highlights a few stories of families reflection on the loss of their loved ones due to COVID-19.

“Even as the USA becomes the first country to reach half-a-million COVID deaths, there are signs the pandemic may be abating, from the decreasing number of cases, hospitalizations and fatalities to the improved vaccine rollout and production. Amid this hopeful scenario, the emergence of coronavirus variants scrambles the picture of what the near future may look like” writes USA Today.

Emotional White House Ceremony

President Biden marked the Covid milestone in an emotional White House ceremony. The President spoke ‘somberly and drawing on his own personal experience and sought not only to honor the dead, but also to comfort those who have lost loved ones’ reports the Times.

The Times reports that The President addressed the survivors directly looking into the camera, “alluding several times to the loss of his first wife, an infant daughter and, later, his eldest son”.

“I know all too well. I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens. I know what it’s like when you are there holding their hands; there’s a look in their eye and they slip away. That black hole in your chest — you feel like you’re being sucked into it. The survivors remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of Feb 22, 9 a.m.) 75,205,940 doses have been distributed and 64,177,474 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of Feb 20) a total of 1,118,532 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of Feb 22) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 479,591 (out of 7,178,713 tested) with 6,433 deaths.