The United States reached a tragic milestone: 1 million COVID-19 deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Monday.
The U.S. is believed to be the first nation to reach 1 million COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Globally, the virus is considered the cause of over 6 million deaths.
According to federal data, overall U.S. deaths spiked by almost 19% (535,191) between 2019 and 2020, from 2,854,838 to 3,390,029 in the U.S. The spike in overall deaths was the largest in the U.S. in 100 years.
The U.S. death count in 2021 remained just as high despite the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. COVID-19 was considered the third-leading cause of death in 2020 and 2021, behind heart disease and cancer, according to government estimates.
COVID-19 deaths over the last two years have peaked in the middle of winter — the U.S. averaged more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths per day during the January 2021 peak and around 3,000 virus deaths a day during the January 2022 peak.
Last Thursday, President Joe Biden ordered flags to fly at half-staff until last Sunday to honor those who lost their life to COVID-19. Biden has also called for additional funds to battle the pandemic, including money for vaccines, testing and medicines.
“As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow,” Biden said. “To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible, as we have with more testing, vaccines, and treatments than ever before. It’s critical that Congress sustain these resources in the coming months.”
Biden has called for an additional $10 billion in funds intended to fight the next phase of the pandemic. The White House says funding for items such as testing and vaccinations, which have been made available to Americans for free, could run out.
Congressional Republicans say they won’t fund COVID-19 programs unless the Biden administration agrees to roll back Title 42, which expedites deportations at the U.S. border.