While the real number was surely passed months ago, even in the official count we are about to reach a full seven figure death toll:
The Covid-19 mortality count—over 990,000 and still rising—is reflected in death certificates recorded by the CDC. Of these certificates, at least 90% list Covid-19 as the underlying cause of death, the CDC said. The remainder list the disease as a contributing cause.
These records show how deaths have swept through the U.S. since the pandemic began, hitting states and populations unevenly. Early hot spots included places like New York City and New Jersey. The burden later shifted southward, including in states where vaccination rates have lagged. Vaccines have shown they reduce the risk of severe illness and death.
The emergence of new virus variants contributed to the death toll by triggering major, new waves of infections. The most recent major challenge, Omicron, appeared less risky on an individual basis, but still caused the second-highest peak in U.S. deaths—an average topping 2,500 a day—through record-breaking numbers of infections.
Epidemiologists say the true death toll from Covid-19 is likely even higher, reflecting missed diagnoses, especially early in the pandemic when the disease was new and tests were scarce. The CDC says excess deaths associated with the pandemic, or deaths above averages from recent years, which also reflect other issues during the pandemic including a surge in drug overdoses, now top 1.1 million.
Looking up Chotiner’s legendary interview with Richie Five Hundred, I am reminded that the CDC’s estimate for COVID-related deaths in later March 2020 was 100,000-200,000, which seemed like an unfathomably high number. That we’re a 5 times more than the high end estimate despite safe and effective vaccines being developed on a miraculously short timetable, and the tool is being increasingly taken for granted…I’m older than that now.