Nearly one year after the first reported COVID-19 death in Washington state, roughly 500,000 Americans have died. According to reports, the grim half million milestone was toppled Sunday afternoon.
The death toll underlines the threat of COVID-19 as more and more American’s receive vaccinations. The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 2,465,200 people worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll in the U.S. is the highest in the world, even though the country has less than 5 percent of the global population.
The number of dead rivals the population of Atlanta, which is the 38th largest city in the country. Preceding the United States is Brazil, which has recorded over 246,000 deaths; Mexico, with nearly 180,000; India, with over 155,000 and the United Kingdom, with 120,000 lives lost, according to Johns Hopkins University.
According to NBC, the average number of daily new cases has declined in recent days and the number of confirmed cases fell below 100,000 on Feb. 12 for the first time in months.
“We are still at about 100,000 cases a day. We are still at around 1,500 to 3,500 deaths per day. The cases are more than two-and-a-half-fold times what we saw over the summer,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place.”
In a White House press briefing Friday, Dr. Rochelle Paula Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said that the United States continues to see a five-week decline in COVID cases, with cases decreasing by 69 percent in the seven-day average since hitting it’s peak in mid January.
“Now more than ever, with continued spread of variants that stand to threaten the progress we are making, we must recommit to doing our part to protect one another: wear a well-fitting mask, social distant, avoid travel and crowds, practice good hand hygiene, and get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you,” Dr. Walensky stated during Friday’s briefing.
According to Whitehouse officials, the U.S. federal government will be deploying teams immediately to work hand in hand with state and local jurisdictions in order to get much needed vaccination sites set up. Selection of all sites is based on a CDC-FEMA framework that has been developed to target vaccinations for those who are most vulnerable. The governments goal is to launch vaccination sites that use processes, and are in locations, that promote equity and deploy the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index.
On Wednesday, Feb. 17, President Biden announced a series of new actions to expand COVID-19 testing, improve the availability of tests, and better prepare for the threat of variants. According to President Biden, the Biden-Harris administration will expand COVID-19 testing for schools and underserved populations, increase domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and rapidly increase virus genome sequencing.
During a press conference Friday, President Biden urged Americans to continue wearing masks, practice in safe social distancing and participate in proper hygiene to protect their fellow citizens. Biden also provided more insight on the country’s vaccinations.
“Just over four weeks ago, America had no real plan to vaccinate most of the country,” Biden said Friday. “My predecessor — as my mother would say, ‘God love him’ — failed to order enough vaccines, failed to mobilize the effort to administer the shots, failed to set up vaccine centers. That changed the moment we took office.”
According to Biden, his plan is to continue increasing supply, providing a vaccine for every American in the country. The CDC reports that they don’t necessarily know how long protection lasts for those who are vaccinated but getting vaccinated helps damper the virus and protect those around you.
During his same Friday press briefing, Biden also expanded on his plan for economic relief to assist American’s in need during the pandemic. His $1.9 trillion plan would bring increased unemployment benefits, additional stimulus packages and extended nutritions plans.
“This is the United States of America, for God’s sake,” Biden said. “We invest in people who are in need.”