- This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: July 5, 2021
About one in 547 Americans have died from COVID-19.
By Dec. 26, one in 1,000 Americans (with 331,116 Americans dead) had perished from the virus, according to CNN, but by mid-May 2021, that number had surpassed the 600,000 mark. The nation has an estimated population of 330,750,000, and has experienced upward of 33.7 million infections and more than 605,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The number of people who died in 2020 was so massive that it cut the life expectancy in the U.S. by nearly two years.
December had been the deadliest month in the pandemic, according to experts, but January 2021 topped it. Previously, April 2020 was the deadliest month of the pandemic, with 55,000 deaths. In January, more than 77,000 people died.
By May 2021, though, the daily average of COVID deaths had dropped to its lowest figure in 10 months, the case rates were hovering at their lowest levels in a year, and the U.S. was reporting only one new case every two seconds—compared to five new cases every two seconds in January 2021.
A surge in holiday air travel likely contributed to the numbers in January, putting the U.S. in a “nightmarish” situation. Projections from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict that a staggering 193,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 in January and February.
Many hospitals around the nation were overburdened. A post-holiday surge saw many become entirely overwhelmed, putting COVID-19 patients and other sick or chronic people at enhanced risk.
The pandemic, which has lasted 16 months, has worn down many Americans. Three vaccines are being distributed, but experts anticipate it will be months before enough of the population is inoculated to noticeably slow the pandemic.
“We need to be prepared for the fact that it is going to be a slow rollout in many places and that it will not change our behaviors or necessarily the trajectory of the pandemic in this country in the short term,” Dr. Esther Choo, a professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, told CNN.
Until, and even after, vaccines are widely available (and, as of early April 2021, there were days where more than 4 million per day had been vaccinated), precautions must be taken. Even for those who are fully vaccinated, the world can’t yet open up all the way, especially since more young adults have been hospitalized with COVID variants. (In May, though, the CDC said vaccinated people could, for the most part, be inside and outside without having to wear a mask.)
Preventative measures, which were carefully heeded toward the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, are becoming less common among certain groups. Vigilant mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing will continue to be necessary if Americans hope to slow the pandemic by the summer of 2021.