In just over a year, Covid-19 has claimed more than half a million US lives. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in World War II.
The victims span every age group and corner of the country. And each left an indelible legacy.
This week President Biden is asking Americans to mark the over 500,000 deaths with a moment of silence at sunset Monday. He’s also ordered flags on all federal buildings lowered to half-staff for five days.
The disease has killed at least 100,000 people in the past five weeks and was the leading cause of death in the country in January, ahead of heart disease, cancer and other ailments, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Losing over half a million lives to this disease was unimaginable when the first few people died of COVID-19 in the U.S last February. The disease soon began to ravage nursing homes and the five boroughs of New York City, frequently striking those left most vulnerable because of age, poor health, job requirements or crowded living conditions.
Now, around 2,000 people die from the disease every day on average, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, down from a high of over 3,000 a day on average in mid-January.
The pandemic’s deadliest day in the U.S. so far has been Jan. 12, when 4,400 people died.
“The massive number and the loss of those people from our society has not been acknowledged,” says Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones, an epidemiologist and past president of the American Public Health Association. “We cannot think these people are disposable and dispensable and that we can just get along very well without them. It’s those kinds of blinders that sap the strength of the whole society.”