US coronavirus deaths now surpass combat fatalities in three wars
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On February 6 last year, COVID-19 claimed its first victim on U.S. soil: a 57-year-old woman in Santa Clara County, California. Less than three months later, the death toll surpassed the number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat during the nine-year-long Vietnam War (not including those killed outside the theater of war).
On February 22 this year, the United States surpassed half a million coronavirus deaths, reinforcing the magnitude of the pandemic even as more Americans get vaccinated and COVID deaths and hospitalizations are declining, according to POLITICO.
The president ordered flags be flown at half-staff for the next five days.
Biden, soon after being sworn in, predicted the nation would hit half a million deaths by the end of February while warning his administration would be unable to dramatically increase the pace of vaccinations.
POLITICO says the spread of the virus has ebbed after a dramatic spike over the holidays and new year, with new daily cases falling back to roughly 64,000 per day, compared to the peak of 300,000 new cases in January. Still, the country's 28.2 million cases and death toll still far outpaces the rest of the world.
Officials in recent days have also said they will be investing additional funding to scale up surveillance to detect the spread of emerging variants across the country, as well as increase testing capacity, including for schools as part of the administration’s push to reopen in-person learning for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The New York Times says the United States accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s known COVID deaths, but makes up just 4.25 percent of the global population.
About one in 670 Americans has died of COVID-19, which has become a leading cause of death in this country, along with heart disease and cancer, and has driven down life expectancy more sharply than in decades.