In the history of the pandemic in the U.S., 2020 will be remembered as the most disruptive year, a time when the coronavirus shut down businesses, schools, sports, travel and many more staples of everyday life.
But 2021 has surpassed its predecessor as the deadliest year.
That threshold, especially lamentable considering the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the country since the spring, was crossed Tuesday when the U.S.’s world-leading total of coronavirus deaths went over the 704,000 mark. The 2020 tally was 352,000, or half that number.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington National Cathedral plans to toll its funeral bell 700 times in memory of the lives lost.
The solemn ceremony comes as COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the U.S. are trending downward, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Compared to four weeks ago, hospitalizations for the latest week are down 26.9%, and the number of ICU beds occupied by likely COVID-19 patients has diminished by 25.3%. The pace of fatalities has decreased as well, about 12% from the Sept. 22 peak.
But the combination of the hyper-infectious delta variant with the misinformation-driven refusal by so many Americans to get vaccinated — some 70 million who are eligible have not received the free shots — has left the country vulnerable to a virus that continues to adapt and find new victims.
More of them, in fact, than in what will likely be regarded as the worst year of the pandemic.
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Source: USA Today