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The United States hit a grim milestone and surpassed 400,000 coronavirus deaths today, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

That figure is more than the number of Americans who died during World War I, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined and nearly the same number who died in World War II.

To put into context, it is about the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tampa, Florida; or New Orleans. It is equivalent to the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969.

The death toll comes on the final day in office of President Trump – whose handling of the crisis bar Operation Warp Speed – has been judged by public health experts a singular failure.

It’s also almost exactly one year to the day since the first virus case was detected in Seattle on January 21.



The first known deaths from the virus in the U.S. were in early February 2020, both of them in Santa Clara County, California.

America’s death toll is the highest in the world despite the country accounting for less than five percent of the global population.

More than 24.1 million people have been infected since the pandemic began.

And the virus isn’t finished with the U.S. by any means.

Even with the arrival of the vaccines, a widely cited model by the University of Washington projects the death toll will reach nearly 567,000 by May 1 of this year.

While the Trump administration has been credited with Operation Warp Speed, the crash program to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines, Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat, mocked masks and railed against lockdowns, promoted unproven and unsafe treatments, undercut scientific experts and expressed scant compassion for the victims.

Even his own bout with COVID-19 last year left him unchanged.

From the Lincoln Memorial to the Empire State building, landmarks across the United States will be illuminated tonight as part of a ceremony led by President-elect Joe Biden to honor the 400,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.

The commemoration comes just hours before Trump leaves the White House and hands over a country in crisis.

The ceremony, spearheaded by Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will be the federal government’s first nod to the staggering death toll from the pandemic.

Local officials from Miami, Florida, to San Diego, California, said buildings in their cities would be lit for the occasion.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City was inviting the public to light a candle on its front steps on Tuesday evening before a solemn bell toll.

The ceremony marks the beginning of a new era in the country’s battle against COVID-19 under Biden, who has pledged to make coronavirus relief a top priority when he takes office on Wednesday under unprecedented security measures in the nation’s capital.

Biden will inherit a grieving and sickened nation from Trump, who critics say was to blame for a disjointed and ineffectual response to the pandemic, resulting in the United States having the highest COVID-19 death toll in the world.

Many of Biden’s policy plans fly in the face of the Trump administration’s approach to combating the pandemic.

They include a mask mandate that would apply to federal properties, planes and buses and a recommitment to the World Health Organization after Trump’s withdrawal from the agency.

Biden will also face the daunting task of overseeing the nation’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration.

The United States is trailing in its vaccination goal, with just 14.7 million Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of this morning, and only about 54 percent of vaccine doses distributed to states have been administered to people, according to data from Bloomberg.


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