It’s a milestone that by all accounts didn’t have to happen this soon.
The U.S. death toll from Covid-19 eclipsed 700,000 late Friday — a number greater than the population of Boston. The last 100,000 deaths occurred during a time when vaccines — which overwhelmingly prevent deaths, hospitalizations and serious illness — were available to any American over the age of 12.
“As our nation mourns the painful milestone of 700,000 American deaths due to Covid-19, we must not become numb to the sorrow,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday. “On this day, and every day, we remember all those we have lost to this pandemic and we pray for their loved ones left behind who are missing a piece of their soul.”
The milestone is also deeply frustrating to doctors, public health officials and the American public, who watched a pandemic that had been easing earlier in the summer take a dark turn. Tens of millions of Americans have refused to get vaccinated, allowing the highly contagious delta variant to tear through the country and send the death toll from 600,000 to 700,000 in 3 1/2 months.
“The astonishing death toll is yet another reminder of just how important it is to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, free, and easy — and we have made extraordinary progress in our fight against Covid-19 over the last eight months because of the vaccines,” Biden said. “More than three-quarters of all Americans age 12 and up have now received at least one vaccine dose — including nearly 94 percent of all seniors. Hundreds of thousands of families have been spared the unbearable loss that too many Americans have already endured during this pandemic.”
“If you haven’t already, please get vaccinated. It can save your life and the lives of those you love,” he added.
Florida suffered by far the most death of any state during that period, with the coronavirus killing about 17,000 residents since the middle of June. Texas was second with 13,000 deaths. The two states account for 15 percent of the country’s population, but more than 30 percent of the nation’s deaths since the nation crossed the 600,000 threshold.