Deaths from Covid-19 surpassed the 700,000 mark in the US on Saturday, while worldwide deaths climbed over five million, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University and a Reuters tally.
The US is the world’s worst affected country with about 15 percent of worldwide fatalities.
The death toll – roughly equivalent to the population of the nation’s capital, Washington, DC – was reached late on Friday. The grim threshold comes with an average of well over 1,000 dying each day, in a country where 55.7 percent of the population is now fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The last 100,000 deaths occurred during a time when vaccines, which overwhelmingly prevent deaths, hospitalizations and serious illness, were available to any American over the age of 12.
In Washington DC, 695,000 white flags at the National Mall have become a poignant reminder of the pandemic’s human tragedy.
Each flag, planted in neat squares on 20 acres of grass just north of the Washington Monument, represents one person who has died from Covid-19 in the United States.
Titled “In America: Remember,” this sobering memorial—on view in Washington, D.C. through October 3—is the work of Maryland artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg. With the sea of plastic flags, many of which feature handwritten dedications to lost loved ones, “we are recapturing the human dignity of each one of these people who have been compressed and … reduced to numbers,” said Firstenberg at a September 17 opening ceremony.
US grim milestone “frustrating”
The milestone reached with 700,000 deaths in the US is especially frustrating to public health leaders and medical professionals on the front lines because vaccines have been available to all eligible Americans for nearly six months and the shots overwhelmingly protect against hospitalizations and death. An estimated 70 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated, providing kindling for the variant.
“You lose patients from Covid-19 and it should not happen,” said Debi Delapaz, a nurse manager at UF Health Jacksonville who recalled how the hospital was at one point losing eight patients a day to Covid-19 during the summer surge. “This is something that should not happen,” she told Associated Press on Saturday.
After a heavily criticized early response to the pandemic, the US organized an effective vaccine rollout with sometimes more than four million injections per day.
The campaign, however, has since slowed considerably as a significant portion of US citizens is still refusing to get the shots just as the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus tore through the country and send the death toll from 600,000 to 700,000 in three and a half months.
US State of Florida suffered the most from Covid
The two states account for 15 percent of the country’s population, but more than 30 percent of the nation’s deaths since the nation crossed the 600,000 threshold.
More than half of all global deaths reported on a seven-day average were in the United States, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India.
14,889 deaths in Greece
In Greece, the total number of deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic has risen to 14,889.
Greek health authorities announced on Saturday that 95.4 percent of the fatalities had either an underlying condition or were above 70 years old.