COVID-19: US reaches ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll
The US death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 yesterday (22), a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation with its sparkling laboratories, top-flight scientists, and stockpiles of medicines and emergency supplies.
“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher.
The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities.
But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in the US is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.
And it is still climbing. Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the US toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year, as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until 2021.
“The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, in some respects stunning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Government’s top infectious-disease expert, said on CNN.
The US hit the threshold six weeks before a presidential election that is certain to be in part a referendum on President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis.
In an interview yesterday with a Detroit TV station, Trump boasted of doing an “amazing” and “incredible” job, adding: “The only thing we’ve done a bad job in is public relations because we haven’t been able to convince people – which is basically the fake news – what a great job we’ve done.”
And in a pre-recorded speech at a virtual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Trump lashed out at Beijing over what he called “the China virus” and demanded that it be held accountable for having “unleashed this plague onto the world.” China’s ambassador rejected the accusations as baseless.
On Twitter, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said, “It didn’t have to be this bad.”
“It’s a staggering number that’s hard to wrap your head around,” he said. “There’s a devastating human toll to this pandemic – and we can’t forget that.”
For five months, America has led the world by far in sheer numbers of confirmed infections and deaths. The US has less than 5 percent of the globe’s population but more than 20 percent of the reported deaths.
Only five countries – Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Spain, and Brazil – rank higher in COVID-19 deaths per capita. Brazil is second on the list of countries with the most deaths, with about 137,000, followed by India with approximately 89,000 and Mexico with about 74,000.
“All the world’s leaders took the same test, and some have succeeded and some have failed,” said Dr. Cedric Dark, an emergency physician at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who has seen death first-hand. “In the case of our country, we failed miserably.”
(Source: Al Jazeera)