The U.S. recorded a grim milestone Tuesday with over 600,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. However, the news comes as weekly fatalities have declined to lows not seen since early on in the pandemic.
The latest data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate a seven-day moving average of about 330 deaths, figures not seen since March 2020. Health officials owe the dropoff in deaths to a significant proportion of the country’s vaccinated population; federal data suggests 54% of adults are fully vaccinated, while 64.5% have received at least one dose. Figures also suggest a sweeping share of adults over 65 are protected against COVID-19, with over three-quarters fully vaccinated.
"We’re approaching a sad milestone, almost 600,000 lost lives because of COVID-19 in America," President Joe Biden said from NATO headquarters in Brussels earlier on Monday. "My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one. I know that black hole that seems to consume you, that fills up your chest when you lose someone close to you that you adored."
"That’s why I continue to say to America, if you have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated. Get vaccinated as soon as possible," Biden said.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, noted at a June 8 White House COVID-19 briefing that cases declined by nearly 30% over the prior seven-day average, with the most recent seven-day average logging 12,223 infections. Infections had not reached below the 15,000 mark since March 2020, while hospitalizations declined by 23% over the prior period.
"It gives me so much hope to report these declines in cases, hospitalizations and deaths," Walensky previously said. "It is in part a result of our ongoing efforts to vaccinate so many Americans."
However, while the vaccination pace declined to record lows by June -- leaving officials concerned amid rapid spread of a highly transmissible Delta variant first detected in India -- the country’s furious pace in logging deaths has also declined.
The U.S. recorded 500,000 coronavirus deaths in February when approximately 5% of the country’s population was vaccinated. That milestone occurred just over a month after the nation surpassed 400,000 virus-related deaths in January, breaking 300,000 less than a month prior.
The U.S. still claims the most reported coronavirus deaths worldwide. Brazil follows and India ranks next with at least 374,300 deaths after a deadly wave ripped through the country's health care system, though these figures are believed to be an underestimate. Despite the totals, Peru far exceeds any other country with its 580.45 deaths per 100,000 population, including both healthy and confirmed infected individuals. The U.S. ranks fifth in deaths per 100,000 population, at 182.72, following after Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina (230.94, 190.26,189.91 respectively), according to data from Johns Hopkins University.