The U.S. surpassed 600,000 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, June 15th, a stark reminder of the pandemic’s enduring toll even as the nation continues to take steps toward normalcy. The remarkable progress in the battle against the coronavirus, thanks to a concerted vaccination effort led by the federal government, has ushered in the lifting of restrictions and perhaps even a sense that the pandemic’s over. The precise number is under debate. Reuters reported, there had been 600,061 reports of covid-linked fatalities since the start of the pandemic, while a Johns Hopkins University tracker placed the death toll at 600,272. Either way, the United States is closing in on the total casualty count across the four-year long Civil War.
The nationwide death rate, however, has dropped sharply since inoculations became widely available. More than 79,000 people died of covid-19 in January, but it has taken almost four months for the death toll to go from 500,000 to 600,000.The current seven-day average of about 430 deaths a day is less than one-seventh of the 3,300 daily fatalities during the ghastly January peak. But even 430 represents a fourfold increase on the number of Americans per day who die of the flu in a typical year, and the U.S. still leads the world by plenty in reported coronavirus cases (33.4 million) and deaths.
Here are some significant developments:
- The European Union will recommend lifting restrictions on U.S. travelers on Friday, a long-anticipated move that will allow a return to near-normal travel with the continent for the first time since the pandemic began, according to diplomats.
- California fully reopened its economy even as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) stressed that “this thing can come back” if vaccination rates don’t continue increasing.
- Fifty-two people associated with the Copa America soccer tournament held in covid-stricken Brazil have tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s Health Ministry said Tuesday.
- The Trump administration’s hunt for a pandemic “lab leak” went down many paths and came up with no smoking gun to reveal whether the virus could be the result of engineering or a lab accident.
- Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin laid out a plan to fully reopen the economy in late October. The Southeast Asian nation has been in “total lockdown” since June 1, when it was registering more new cases per capita than any medium- or large-sized country in Asia.
- The United States reported a seven-day rolling average of 13,530 new cases Tuesday, a 13.5 percent decrease from the previous week. Covid-linked hospitalizations fell by 13 percent.
And with half of Americans still unvaccinated, the potential for further grief and suffering has been far from eliminated.”The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, but it doesn’t bring back any of those lives or bring solace to the grieving families,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.