Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Death Toll Exceeds Half Million – The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Death Toll Exceeds Half Million – The Wall Street Journal

The number of confirmed U.S. deaths from Covid-19 surpassed half a million nearly a year after a world-wide pandemic was declared.

President Biden plans to deliver remarks at the White House Monday evening to honor those who have died, his administration said. The White House said the first lady, the vice president and her husband would attend Mr. Biden’s remarks, which will include a candle-lighting ceremony at sundown.

In a proclamation issued Monday afternoon, the president noted that 500,000 people killed by the virus in the U.S. exceeded American deaths from World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

At 5 p.m. the flag was lowered at the White House.

“We, as a Nation, must remember them so we can begin to heal, to unite, and find purpose as one Nation to defeat this pandemic,” Mr. Biden said. He called on Americans to observe a moment of silence at sunset and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at other federal buildings.

The high death toll comes after a fall surge that reached every corner of the country and strained healthcare systems as patients flooded hospitals. Fatalities peaked in mid-January, when the seven-day average of reported deaths was around 3,300 a day, up from a rate of 1,100 just two months earlier, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The seven-day average helps smooth out irregularities in data reporting.

Newly reported deaths have appeared to be declining in recent weeks from those record levels, following improving data on cases and hospitalizations, but they remain higher than peaks seen in earlier surges. The U.S. reported 1,249 new Covid-19 deaths on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins data.

After topping 100,000 reported fatalities in May, it took the U.S. roughly four months to reach 200,000 confirmed deaths on Sept. 21, according to the Journal’s analysis of Johns Hopkins data. It took 2½ months to reach 300,000 deaths and just over a month to add another 100,000 both in January and February.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forecast last month that the U.S. could reach 500,000 Covid-19 deaths by mid-February.

On Monday, the country’s total reported fatalities stood at 500,071. Around the world, more than 2.4 million deaths have been recorded since the pandemic began. However, the virus’s true toll is likely far worse.

Beth Blauer, executive director of the Centers for Civic Impact at Johns Hopkins, said the nationwide drop in new infections suggests that deaths from the virus are likely to continue to slow. The seven-day average of newly reported cases in the U.S. fell Saturday to 71,195, down from a peak of nearly 250,000 in the second week of January.

She noted, however, that a decline in testing—an average of 1.4 million tests a day were conducted in the past week, compared with about two million a day a month ago—might continue to lead infections and deaths to be undercounted.

Ms. Blauer, who is part of the university’s Coronavirus Resource Center, said another uptick in infections is possible but difficult to predict right now.

—Catherine Lucey and Andrew Restuccia contributed to this article.

Published at Mon, 22 Feb 2021 22:04:00 +0000

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