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The United States has reached a shattering milestone in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans has died of coronavirus since the first reported infection in the country.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, as of Tuesday, 663,913 people in the U.S. had died of COVID-19. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. population in April 2020 was 331.4 million.
The most recent wave of coronaviruses in the United States, driven by the Delta variant, could soon reach its peak. However, experts warn against claiming victory and anticipate that the virus will become part of everyday life in the coming years.
As of this Monday, the seven-day average for daily cases was 172,000, its highest level of increase even as the growth rate is slowing and cases are declining in most states, according to data compiled by the tracking tool Covid Act Now.
Yet more than 1,800 people still die a day and more than 100,000 remain hospitalized for severe COVID, a cruel reminder of the challenges authorities have faced in vaccinating as many Americans as possible in a climate of misinformation and political polarization.
Bhakti Hansoti, an associate professor of emergency medicine at John Hopkins University and an expert in COVID-19 critical care, told AFP she saw the United States following a similar trajectory to India.
Western European countries have also experienced similar drops in their Delta surges.
And while Hansoti breathed a sigh of relief when the spring wave ended, she admits she is "a little hesitant" this time.
The possible emergence of new variants of concern and the arrival of colder weather, which causes more indoor socializing, could lead to a spike. "Unless we learn from the lessons of the fourth wave," she warns.