On Tuesday, the death toll
in the United States
surpassed 600,000, despite the fact that the vaccination
campaign has significantly reduced daily cases and fatalities, allowing the country to emerge from the doldrums and look forward to summer.
According to Johns Hopkins University
, the number of lives lost is greater than the populations of Baltimore
, and it is roughly equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer
The landmark occurred on the same day that California
and New York
lifted the majority of their remaining restrictions, joining other states in gradually easing the way for what could be a fun and normal summer for many Americans.
“Deep down, I want to rejoice,” said Rita Torres, a retired university administrator in Oakland
, California, but she will take her time: “It’s kind of like, is it too soon? Will we be sorry?”
COVID-19 deaths per day in the United States have dropped to an average of around 340 since the vaccine
's introduction in mid-December, from a high of over 3,400 in mid-January, and cases are running at around 14,000 per day on average, down from a quarter-million per day during the winter.
The true death toll in the United States and around the world is thought to be much higher, with many cases being overlooked or possibly hidden by some countries.
President Joe Biden
acknowledged the approaching milestone during a visit to Europe
on Monday, saying that while new cases and deaths in the United States are declining dramatically, “too many lives are still being lost,” and “now is not the time to let our guard down.”
In some ways, the most recent deaths are seen as particularly tragic now that the vaccine is practically free to anyone who wants it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, more than half of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and more than 40% are fully vaccinated.
However, demand for shots in the United States has dropped dramatically, leaving many areas with a surplus of doses and casting doubt on the country's ability to meet Biden's target of having 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, which currently stands at just under 65%.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States was averaging about 1 million injections per day a week ago, down from a high of about 3.3 million per day on average in mid-April.
At nearly every stage of the outbreak, the virus has exploited and exacerbated inequalities in the United States. When adjusted for age and population, CDC
figures show that Black
, and Native Americans
are two to three times more likely than whites to die from COVID-19.
In addition, an Associated Press investigation
discovered that Latinos are dying at much younger ages than other groups, with Hispanics between the ages of 30 and 39 dying at five times the rate of whites in the same age group.
Overall, Black and Hispanic Americans have less access to medical care and are in poorer health
, with higher rates of conditions such as diabetes
and high blood pressure; they are also more likely to have essential jobs
, less able to work from home
, and more likely to live in crowded, multigenerational households.
With the overall picture improving rapidly, California, the most populous state and the first to impose a coronavirus
lockdown, dropped state rules on social distancing
and capacity limits at restaurants
, bars, supermarkets, gyms, stadiums, and other locations, ushering in what has been billed as its "Grand Reopening" just in time for summer.
is reopening its doors to all tourists after previously only allowing California residents in, and Dodgers and Giants fans
will be able to sit elbow-to-elbow and cheer without masks
Gov. Gavin Newsom
commemorated the occasion by holding a drawing in which ten people
won $1.5 million each simply for getting vaccinated.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo
announced on Tuesday that 70% of adults in the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and that the immediate lifting of many of the restrictions will be celebrated with fireworks.
“What does 70% mean? It means we can go back to our normal lives,” he explained.
He stated that the state is lifting rules that limited the size of gatherings and required certain types of businesses to follow cleaning protocols, take people's temperatures, or screen them for COVID-19 symptoms. Businesses will no longer be required to limit the number of people they can allow inside based on the 6-foot rule.
However, for the time being, New Yorkers will be required to wear masks in schools
, subways, and other public places.
lifted a state of emergency that had been in effect for 462 days on Tuesday, though many restrictions, including mask requirements and gathering limits, had already been eased. Republican
lawmakers in Kansas
decided to let a state of emergency expire Tuesday, and Maryland
announced that the state's emergency will end on July 1, with the state no longer requiring masks.
The first known deaths from the virus in the United States occurred in early February 2020, and it took four months to reach the first 100,000 dead. During the most lethal phase of the disaster, which occurred in the winter of 2020-21, it took just over a month to reach the 400,000 mark.
With the crisis now over, it took nearly four months for the death toll in the United States to drop from 500,000 to 600,000.