U.S. surpasses 500,000 COVID-19 deaths

Less than a year after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S., the country recorded 500,000 deaths on Feb. 22, which is more than the Vietnam War and both World Wars combined. 

The average life expectancy in the U.S. dropped by a full year in the first half of 2020, mainly due to COVID-19 related deaths.

Since the peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Jan., the death toll is currently down about 58 percent, according to COVID Tracking Project data. The U.S. has also reported an average of 64,301 infections a day, a drop from a peak rate of over 247,000 in Jan. Every state is experiencing declines in these measures, bringing the seven-day average of deaths under 2,000 a day, a number last seen in early December 2020.

President Joe Biden ordered flags on federal property and at the White House to be lowered to half-mast to honor those lost to the virus from Feb. 22 to Feb. 27. Jupiter High School followed along, also lowering their campus flags at half mast out of respect for the victims and their families.

Biden’s administration plans to take a more aggressive approach to the virus. The 10 measures Biden signed aim to jump-start his national COVID-19 strategy to increase testing and vaccinations. He also plans to lay the groundwork for increasing the use of masks, specifically on planes, trains, buses and other public transportation. 

As more vaccines are distributed, cases are expected to fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 128 million doses have been administered so far in the U.S.

Biden tasked Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, to give an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Fauci, COVID-19 infections are on the verge of hitting a plateau in the U.S. He said the vaccines will be modified to account for new variants of the virus, and he expects current vaccines to be effective against the recent mutations.

According to the White House COVID-19 response team, seven million vaccine doses were distributed on March 1.

“To a nation waiting for action, let me be clear on this point: Help is on the way,” Biden said.