It took just four months for an unseen enemy to kill 100,000 Americans.
That’s almost twice the number of Americans lost during the entire Vietnam War.
No one knew how bad the coronavirus pandemic would get when the first known virus-related death happened on February 6.
But since then, an average of nearly 900 Americans have died every day from Covid-19.
The 100,047 death toll reported Wednesday comes from data collected by Johns Hopkins University. But it might not paint a complete picture. Some victims — such as those who die in their homes and not in a hospital — might never have been tested for Covid-19. And, sometimes, officials within the same state don’t agree on how to report deaths.
“I think we’ve sort of seen this coming now for some time, these projections. But when it happens it makes it no less painful, no less tragic,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. “They say one in seven people will likely know someone who has died from this Covid disease. So it’s tough. And … it’s a bad virus. It’s a contagious lethal virus. We know this leads to terrible news like this.”
The victims have represented some of the best of humanity:
An ER doctor who risked his life trying to save others.
A grandmother and refugee who worked tirelessly to provide a better life for her children.
A 36-year-old principal who helped troubled students grow produce for the needy.
A Holocaust survivor who saved dozens of families from genocide.
Their lives are gone, but the collective struggle remains. Coronavirus is still spreading unabated, and no one knows how many more Americans will die from Covid-19.
Americans wearing masks will keep case counts down, expert says
Even as the number of deaths reaches such a grim milestone, Americans are at odds over whether it’s necessary to keep taking protective measures, including wearing a face covering.
A leading researcher says the data is clear: The path ahead in the Covid-19 pandemic is being shaped by masks.
“We now have really clear evidence that wearing masks works — it’s probably a 50% protection against transmission,” Dr. Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, or IHME, at the University of Washington, told CNN late Tuesday.
“And so, what happens in the next month or two is very much in the hands of how people respond.”
But as health experts stress the importance of wearing masks, the matter has gotten political. President Donald Trump has foregone face coverings in public while his presumptive rival Joe Biden has worn one, staking their ground in the partisan debate over whether masks are a paranoid restriction or a necessary precaution.
The number of US deaths forecast by August has shifted to 132,000 — 11,000 fewer than projected a week ago — according to the IHME’s model, one of more than a dozen highlighted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Behavioral changes like wearing masks could be responsible for the reduction, Murray said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN on Wednesday that “simple” things like wearing masks and washing hands are crucial.
“Those are the things that everybody should seriously consider doing,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Many officials have urged their residents to wear masks. Former acting CDC director Dr. Richard Besser called it “an American thing to do,” and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said wearing a mask isn’t political, it’s “about loving your fellow human being.”
Still, warmer weather and a holiday weekend drew large crowds from their homes and into public spaces recently, with many faces uncovered.
Fauci said such close gatherings of people without masks were “very troubling. … That’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”
A “second wave” of coronavirus infections is not inevitable, Fauci said, with proper identification, isolation and contract tracing.