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US COVID deaths hit 800,000 mark, one year into vaccine drive

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MISSION, Kan. (AP)

The US death toll from COVID-19 reached 800,000 on Tuesday, an unimaginable number once considered tragically doubly, as more than 200,000 of them died after a vaccine was released. actually sold last spring.

The death toll, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the populations of Atlanta and St. Louis combined, or Minneapolis and Cleveland combined. It roughly equates to the number of Americans who die each year from heart disease or stroke.

The United States is the country with the highest number of reported deaths. The US accounts for about 4% of the world’s population but about 15% of the 5.3 million known coronavirus deaths since the outbreak broke out in China two years ago.

The true death toll in the US and worldwide is thought to be significantly higher because cases are ignored or hidden.

A closely watched forecasting model from the University of Washington predicted a total of more than 880,000 deaths reported in the US by March 1.

Health experts lament that many of the deaths in the United States are particularly heartbreaking because they are preventable with a vaccine, which has been available since mid-December a year ago and is made public until now. all adults by mid-April this year.

About 200 million Americans are fully vaccinated, or just over 60% of the population. That falls short of what scientists say is necessary to control the virus.

“Almost all of the deaths today are preventable deaths,” said Dr. Chris Beyrer, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “And that’s because they weren’t vaccinated. And you know that, my God, it was a terrible tragedy.”

When this vaccine first hit the market, the death toll in the country was around 300,000. It hit 600,000 between June and 700,000 on October 1.

The US has passed the latest threshold with the number of cases and hospitalizations rising again with a spike due to the highly contagious delta variant, which emerged in the first half of 2021 and is now practically the cause of the virus. out all infections. Currently, the omicron variant is gaining a foothold in the water, although scientists aren’t sure how dangerous it is.

Beyrer recalls that in March or April 2020, one of the worst-case scenarios forecast up to 240,000 Americans lost their lives.

“And I saw that number, and I thought it was incredible – 240,000 Americans dead?” he say. “And we’ve now surpassed that number three times.” He added: “And I think it’s fair to say we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Carolyn Burnett is getting ready for her first Christmas without her son Chris, a beloved high school football coach whose outdoor memorial drew hundreds of crowds.

The unvaccinated 34-year-old father passed away in September as a result of COVID-19 after nearly two weeks on a ventilator, and his passing has left a void for his mother, widow and family as the holidays approach.

How, she thought, how could they take holiday photos without Chris? What would Christmas Day football be without him for comment? How can they play the Christmas Eve quiz without him beating everyone with his cinematic expertise?

The US is approaching another sad pandemic milestone – 800,000 deaths. It’s saddening a year that promised so much with the arrival of a vaccine that ended in heartbreak for many grieving families trying to navigate the holiday season.

For their Christmas card photo, the Burnett family ultimately chose to host a soccer ball introduced as a memorial by the Kansas City Chiefs to represent Chris. Carolyn Burnett has also set up a special shelf for the holidays, filled with her son’s drawing, his bronze baby boot, a candle, a poem and a quarterback ornament. Patrick Mahomes.

But nothing feels quite right this year.

“These feelings come and go very quickly,” she said. “You see something. You hear something. His favorite food. You listen to the song. Just all these little things. And then, bam. ”

The year began with the death toll from COVID-19 at about 350,000 in the US, at a time when the country was suffering from a spike in winter that has resulted in patients queuing up in emergency room corridors. waiting for bed.

But vaccines have only just hit the market, and sports stadiums and fairgrounds have quickly turned into mass vaccination sites. The number of records began to decrease. In the spring, nearly all schools have reopened and communities are implementing mask orders. TV broadcasters began to talk cheerfully about a post-pandemic world. President Joe Biden declared the 4th of July holiday as a national celebration of freedom from the virus.

It doesn’t last long. Delta comes just as immunization rates are stagnating in a wave of misinformation that has ravaged under-vaccinated areas of the Midwest and South. Hospitals have brought home mobile morgues and opened their bags in a desperate attempt to attract enough nurses to care for the sick.

“People don’t know,” said Debbie Eaves, a lab worker, who grew weary of the death wave as she collected swabs from patients at Oakdale Community Hospital in Louisiana amid the backdrop surge. “Oh no. They don’t know what it is to see and see, to see it”.

In Kansas, Carolyn Burnett begged her son, who was nicknamed Coach Cheese for his love of cheese sandwiches, to get vaccinated.

“He’s a member of the team… just doesn’t believe it,” she said, pausing and sighing. “They don’t want to be a guinea pig. They don’t want to be tested. “

She thought maybe he was softening. When his dad got his first shot of COVID-19 in August, Chris, a diabetic, told his mother he would discuss it with his doctor. But then one of Chris’ children became infected during a family meal and soon everyone was sick.

She texted him, “Honey, God got me.” His last text to her said, “Mom, I feel him.” He died on September 11th.

School administrators tweeted their heartfelt condolences, praising his passion for coaching runners at Olathe East High School. The tearful athletes were honored in television interviews. Kansas City Glory, an all-girls soccer team coached by Burnett, asked fans to contribute to a GoFundMe fundraiser to help his children. And he was honored with an inspirational award at a ceremony recognizing the region’s best high school athletes.

“We were supported so much that you would think he was a celebrity,” his mother recalls.

Now that the year is over, the delta variant is driving another wave of hospitalizations, court battles are underway over vaccine mandates and new questions are swirling around the new omicron variant. .

Steve Grove has seen his share of coronavirus deaths as a chaplain at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

Recently, a family of a dying patient gathered in a conference room. One by one, they were brought to the patient’s bedside, while other relatives watched on Zoom.

“It was a huge pain in the buttock and the connection dropped and that was weird,” he admits. “This is what I would say to COVID: ‘Yours.’ I’m getting a Zoom call, and you’ve got it. That is what is happening today. You will do what you will and you will kill this person. You have to do it COVID. But what we’re going to do today is this. And I’ll hug them when it’s done.

“The alternative,” he said, “is just you, you just give up, and I guess most people in this building have too much faith in humanity.”

He admits that he sometimes goes crazy with unvaccinated patients because it “doesn’t have to be. And now there’s a mess that can probably be avoided. “

“I will confess it,” he said. “And I know I’m not proud of it, and I swallow it down and then I remember as a human being that my compassion reminds me that it’s still someone’s loved one. It is still death and it is still stinging.”

Dr. LaTasha Perkins, of Georgetown University Student Health, is available in January at a clinic dedicated to helping underserved residents of the community. She is black and says she feels compelled to change after watching the virus ravage her family.

She has lost a wonderful uncle, aunt and cousin to COVID-19, and she suspects the virus may have played a role in her grandfather’s death. When it happened to her family last December after she had her first shot but the rest of the family still couldn’t qualify, she spent many sleepless nights watching her baby breathe and bring her husband. to the hospital, although he was not admitted. She never got sick and for that vaccine. Her husband was also later shot.

Sadly for her, however, only three of her six siblings have been vaccinated. Some hesitation, she said, stems from “the terrible things being done in the name of medicine to black and brown bodies in this country.” She told them, “If you’re worried about rich whites not caring about you, they’re lining up to get vaccinated.”

However, she was unable to get past some of her relatives. That’s part of the reason why she started speaking hesitantly specifically to African-Americans in the DC area.

“For my own selfish reasons, I don’t want to go to any more funerals,” she said, “and I don’t want COVID back in my house.”

https://www.winknews.com/2021/12/14/us-covid-death-toll-hits-800000-a-year-into-vaccine-drive/ US COVID deaths hit 800,000 mark, one year into vaccine drive

Aila Slisco

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