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The U.S. on Wednesday surpassed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled by NBC News — a once unthinkable scale of loss even for the country with the world’s highest recorded toll from the virus.
The number — equivalent to the population of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the U.S. — was reached at stunning speed: 27 months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus.
“Each of those people touched hundreds of other people,” said Diana Ordonez, whose husband, Juan Ordonez, died in April 2020 at age 40, five days before their daughter Mia’s fifth birthday. “It’s an exponential number of other people that are walking around with a small hole in their heart.”
While deaths from Covid have slowed in recent weeks, about 360 people have still been dying every day. The casualty count is far higher than what most people could have imagined in the early days of the pandemic, particularly because then-President Donald Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus while in office.
“This is their new hoax,” Trump said of Democrats in front of a cheering crowd at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Feb. 28, 2020. “So far we have lost nobody to coronavirus.”
A day later, health officials in Washington made the inevitable announcement: a coronavirus patient in their state had died.
Now, more than two years and 999,999 fatalities later, the U.S. death toll is the world’s highest total by a significant margin, figures show. In a distant second is Brazil, which has recorded just over 660,000 confirmed Covid deaths.
Dr. Christopher Murray, who heads the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said although this milestone has been looming, “the fact that so many have died is still appalling.”
And the toll continues to mount.
“This is far from over,” Murray said.
Each death causes a ripple of lasting pain. Diana Ordonez’s husband worked in information security management and had just gotten promoted before he died. When he wasn’t working, he loved to be with his family.
For their daughter, Mia, now 7, losing her dad has brought anxiety, overwhelming sadness, sleep trouble and lots of questions. Ordonez, 35, of Waldwick, New Jersey, doesn’t always have answers.
“I try to be understanding, but I definitely have felt so many times that I’m not equipped to parent this person,” she said.
She finds times of joy are tinged with sadness, too.
“It is shadowed by, ‘God, I wish he was here for this,'” Ordonez said. “It could be simple moments, like watching Mia at ballet, or going to a birthday party and watching her jump up and down, holding hands with her friend.”
‘We had the opportunity to be a shining example’
Per capita, the U.S. ranks 18th worldwide in Covid deaths, while Peru has the highest number. Still, many see the staggering death toll as evidence of America’s inadequate response to the crisis.
“We had the opportunity to be a shining example to the rest of the world about how to deal with the pandemic, and we didn’t do that,” said Nico Montero, a 17-year-old in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Montero made headlines earlier this year when he traveled to Philadelphia, where children ages 11 or older can be vaccinated without parental consent, to receive his shot at age 16…
Créditos: Comité científico Covids