This milestone is a sobering reminder that hundreds of Americans still die every day even as the nation begins to enter its “new normal.”
A little over a year ago, the country recorded 100,000 confirmed deaths linked to the virus.
“A year ago we were already stunned by the death toll at the 100,000 threshold and now we recognize that the impact has been far greater than we could have imagined,” said Dr John Brownstein, director of innovation at Boston Children’s Hospital and an ABC News contributor.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimate that 5.4 million Americans have lost a loved one to COVID-19.
The death toll from COVID in the United States is now more than 200 times the number of lives lost in the U.S. attacks of September 11. It is now approaching the total number of American deaths recorded during the 1918 influenza pandemic.
For the background: 600,000 people could fill Yankee Stadium – eleven times – or Boston’s Fenway Park 16 times.
“It’s still very real. It is always something very serious and must be taken very seriously, ”Shamayne Cruz, respiratory therapist at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, told ABC News.
Globally, the virus has killed more than 3.8 million people. The United States, which makes up just over 4% of the world’s population, accounts for about 16% of COVID-19-related deaths globally. The United States has the highest death toll of any country in the world.
“This pandemic is truly beyond anything we’ve known and yet another milestone highlights the fact that we’re still not out of the woods,” Brownstein said.
The United States surpassed 500,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on February 22, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Since the country’s viral peak in January, the average number of daily cases and deaths has fallen by more than 90%. Hospitalization levels have also fallen dramatically in recent months, with the number of admissions dropping by more than 60% since mid-April.
The United States currently averages just under 350 new coronavirus-related deaths per day, with the country reporting around 2,450 deaths per week, significantly lower than the 23,000 deaths reported over a seven-day period in January.
And with about 52.5% of the total US population now vaccinated with at least one dose, states are rushing to drop coronavirus restrictions and coverage requirements for residents, signaling a modified return to the pre-pandemic time.
Health officials, however, remain concerned about rapidly mutating variants and unvaccinated Americans.
President Joe Biden and other health officials are now urging young Americans to get vaccinated, given the potential threat from the Delta variant, which is rapidly spreading among younger populations in the UK.
Folks, the Delta variant – a highly infectious COVID-19 strain – is spreading rapidly among young people between the ages of 12 and 20 in the UK If you’re young and haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, it’s really about time . It’s the best way to protect yourself and those you love. – President Biden (@POTUS) June 8, 2021
According to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, the prevalence of the Delta variant, first identified in India, is increasing nationwide. It now accounts for around 10% of new virus cases in the United States
Experts have warned that the Delta variant is not only more transmissible, but it can also cause more serious illness. It is particularly dangerous for those who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated. Current evidence so far suggests that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are effective against the Delta variant.
In an interview with ABC News’ David Muir on Wednesday, Dr Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health, described the Delta variant as “the most contagious variant we’ve seen so far” and said warned that it had “really wreaked havoc in one country after another. “
Frontline workers are also now reporting that a greater proportion of young unvaccinated populations are receiving care. Nationally, the 18-49 age groups continue to account for the largest number of hospitalized patients.
“Right now what we are seeing is that we still have people who have died from COVID, and these steps are difficult because from a nursing perspective, we believe they could have been avoided with the vaccine, ”Megan Bowes, a lung and respiratory care unit director of Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center in Florida, told ABC News. “It sometimes makes it even more difficult to wrap our brains around these people who are still dying. “
The key to preventing more of these tragic milestones, experts say, will be getting more people vaccinated – globally and nationally -.
“The vaccine is our ticket out of future tragic milestones,” Brownstein said.