While a number of outlets have reported the milestone as already surpassed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday made it official: More than one million Americans have lost their lives in cases related to Covid-19. The real toll is likely much higher.
The death toll is “equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days,” according to The Associated Press, which confirmed the news today. “It is roughly equal to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined.”
Between 160 million and 214 million people in the United States could be infected over the course of the epidemic, according to a projection that encompasses the range of the four scenarios. That could last months or even over a year, with infections concentrated in shorter periods, staggered across time in different communities, experts said. As many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die.
In the same month, the nation saw its first death related to the virus. At the time, a confident-sounding President Donald Trump said, “Additional cases in the United States are likely. But healthy individuals should be able to fully recover…Our country is prepared for any circumstance.”
Like the president, most Americans seemed to have no idea what was coming. Nor did most Americans have more than a hazy idea that, in 1918, the country had suffered another pandemic, dubbed “The Great Influenza.” Even those who did had a very hard time imagining that the nation could lose more lives in the 2020 pandemic than it had in 1918.
According to the CDC archive of the event, that number was 675,000. The country passed that mark on September 15, 2021. It has seen another 335,000 in the seven months since.
Earlier this month, a group of top experts convened by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs calculated excess mortality related to the pandemic between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021 at approximately 14.9 million lives lost, with a range from 13.3 million to 16.6 million.
An estimate from The Lancet of excess mortality worldwide due to Covid-19 over the course of 2020 and 2021 pegged the full death toll at more than 18 million.
The United States leads all other countries in the number of deaths seen from the virus. While it’s unknown how large our share of those excess deaths is, it’s a sensible bet that it is substantial.