United States surpasses 500,000 Covid deaths after year-long battle against pandemic

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The body of a deceased patient is seen as healthcare workers treating people infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, the United States, December 30, 2020.

Callaghan O’Hare | Reuters

At 5 a.m. on July 11, Tara Krebbs received a call at her Phoenix home. Her mother was on the other end, crying hysterically. Tara’s father had woken up unable to breathe, and he was on his way to the hospital.

Charles Krebbs, 75, started showing symptoms of Covid-19 shortly after Father’s Day in June, first having a fever, then losing his sense of taste and smell. With local hospitals overwhelmed, he had tried to recuperate at home, still awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test that had taken weeks to plan. His results were still not back – even though emergency paramedics took him to the emergency room.

A few weeks earlier, Tara had left a Father’s Day gift with her parents with a card that said “next year will be better”. It was the last time she would see her father until the night he died, when she was given an hour to say goodbye in person in the intensive care unit. After nearly four weeks in the hospital, he lost his battle with the coronavirus in early August.

Charles Krebbs is one of more than 500,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19, a staggering toll that comes about a year after the virus was first detected in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. And for each of those lives lost, there are children, spouses, siblings and friends who have been left behind.

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“I look at old pictures of him holding me and you can see how much he loved me,Tara spoke about her father, who worked as a real estate broker and appraiser in Maricopa County. He was a music lover and a history buff who loved living near his daughter and family, taking his grandson to his first day of kindergarten and coaching his Little League teams.

“He was just a caring and practical guy who loved his family more than anything,” Krebbs said.

Tara Krebbs and her father, Charles Krebbs

Tara Krebbs

Today’s dark milestone follows some of the pandemic’s deadliest months. Following a fall and winter spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, 81,000 deaths were reported in December and 95,000 in January, both far exceeding the peak of just over 60,000 in April. At the same time, U.S. health officials are rushing to pick up the pace Covid-19 vaccinations Across the country.

Horrible landmark

Although the virus has been around for over a year, the scale of the death toll is difficult to apprehend.

When US health officials gave the first estimates of hundreds of thousands of deaths last spring, “people thought we were hyperbolic about it, and we clearly weren’t. That’s a point. horrible benchmark that we have now reached, “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, told TBEN News on Monday.

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Almost as many Americans died from Covid-19 as died in World War I and World War II combined. The death toll in the United States represents a population roughly the size of Atlanta or Kansas City, Missouri.

“Even when you hear about half a million people die, that sounds like a huge number, but it’s hard to put it into perspective,” said Cynthia Cox, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization in non-profit focused on national health issues. . “It’s hard for people to hear those numbers and put faces to them.”

One of the reasons for this is the nature of how these deaths often occurred, in isolation and far from loved ones.

“The thing that was different about Covid from other mass casualty events is the lack of video or personal connection at the time of death,” Cox said. “The Covid rooms are so closed for security reasons that we don’t have TV cameras to show us what it really looks like. We hear a lot of big numbers but we don’t get that personal connection unless we know someone. “

David Kessler, a Los Angeles-based bereavement expert and author who ran an online support group for those who have lost someone to Covid, said 500,000 deaths is a number “the mind doesn’t want. understand”.

“A number like that makes the world dangerous and we would rather not live in a dangerous world,” he said.

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Seeking a benchmark, Kessler compared the death toll from Covid to the two Boeing 737 Max plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a total of 346 people.

“Think about how many 737 Maxes fell, how much news we had and what visuals we had,” he said. “You don’t realize that 500,000 people equals almost 3,000 falling planes. Eight would have fallen yesterday. Can you imagine if eight planes crashed every day?

One of the leading causes of death in the United States

The death toll from Covid-19 places the disease among the leading causes of death in the United States. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease and cancer alone killed more than 500,000 people in one year in 2019, the most recent annual figures available. When the daily death toll peaked in January, Cox found in an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation that Covid was killing more people a day than any other cause.

Covid-19, however, is a single disease and not a group of diseases that make up the CDC’s broader categories of causes of death such as heart disease and cancer. The numbers for Covid-19 are even more striking compared to other specific diseases like lung cancer, which killed 140,000 Americans in 2019, Alzheimer’s disease, which killed 121,000, or breast cancer, which killed 43,000.

Bursted this way, Cox said, the Covid death toll “far exceeds any other disease.”


How does the death toll from Covid-19

compares to other United States

causes of death

35,000 Americans died of

Parkinson’s disease in 2019

43,000 died of breast cancer

50,000 died of the flu and

pneumonia

104,000 died of a heart attack

121,000 died of Alzheimer’s disease

disease

140,000 died of lung cancer

500,000 death from Covid-19

in the past year

Iconography courtesy of ProPublica

WeePeople Project

How the Covid-19 death toll compares to that of the rest of the United States

causes of death

35,000 Americans died of Parkinson’s disease in 2019

43,000 died of breast cancer

50,000 death from flu and pneumonia

104,000 died of a heart attack

121,000 died of Alzheimer’s disease

140,000 died of lung cancer

500,000 died from Covid-19 in the past year

Iconography courtesy of ProPublica’s WeePeople project

The effect of the disease is so large that in the first half of 2020, it reduced life expectancy in the United States by one year – a dizzying drop, according to the latest CDC analysis.

The United States has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, with more deaths reported than anywhere else in the world. When adjusting for population, the United States only trails the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Italy and Portugal in terms of per capita deaths, according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins University.

“ She meant a lot to a lot of people ”

Isabelle Odette Papadimitriou was a respiratory therapist in Dallas, who spent the spring and summer caring for Covid patients at the hospital where she worked. At the end of June, she caught the virus herself and died shortly after July 4, her favorite vacation. She was 64 years old.

Her daughter, Fiana Tulip, remembers her mother as a “tough as a bull” person who has survived countless flu epidemics over her 30-year career. A fan of the British Royal Family who treated her two dogs “like little humans,” Tulip said she was the type of mother who would send packages to her daughter Amazon whenever she felt she needed something. After his death, Tulip received a pair of pink ruffled shoes that Papadimitriou had sent for Tulip’s daughter, his first grandchild.

Over the summer, Tulip received calls from former colleagues and friends of her mother, ranging from an employee at the local Papadimitriou dog daycare to the owner of a storage unit she rented in Texas. .

“The people who loved my mom were just coming out,” Tulip said. “She meant a lot to a lot of people.”

The pandemic is not over yet

Coronavirus cases in the United States have fallen in recent weeks and the rate of reported deaths is also slowing. The country records just under 1,900 Covid-19 deaths per day, based on a weekly average, compared to more than 3,300 per day in mid-January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Nevertheless, the death toll will continue to rise. Projections from the University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation show a range of 571,000 to 616,000 total deaths from Covid-19 in the United States as of June 1, under various scenarios.

Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, warned Americans on Sunday to avoid feeling of complacency with Covid-19 despite the drop in cases, saying “the baseline for daily infections is still very, very Student”.

The CDC also identified at least three strains of mutant viruses in the United States, some of which have been shown to be more transmissible than the dominant strain, although experts have widely said they expect current vaccines offer some protection against these variants.

So far, about 44 million people, or about 13% of the population, have received at least one injection of either the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, and President Joe Biden suggested during a TBEN town hall last week that the country could return to some semblance of normalcy by Christmas.

But for those who have lost a loved one to Covid-19, Kessler, the grieving expert, said things would not be the same.

“If you’re talking about family members, we’re not recovering from the loss,” he said. “We have to learn to live with the loss.”

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