Official U.S. death toll hits 600,000
Tuesday was a landmark day in the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Most restrictions in California and New York were lifted, affecting about 60 million Americans, approximately 18% of the populace. While that was largely celebrated across the Nos. 1 and 4 states by population, the day also saw a somber milestone as the country’s official pandemic death toll hit 600,000.
The death tallies recorded by Johns Hopkins University are equal to the number of cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2019, and the actual total is almost certainly higher based on excess death figures. Daily death tolls are down 90% from their peak in January thanks to widespread vaccination campaigns, and new daily cases are at 14,000 compared to a quarter-million over the winter. More than 40% of Americans are fully vaccinated, with another 10% or so having had one dose of a two-dose vaccination.
In California, venues can now open at 100% capacity and physical distancing measures are no longer in place. Masks are not required for fully vaccinated people except in select cases and unless local ordinances call for them.
“With nearly 40 million vaccines administered and among the lowest case rates in the nation, we are lifting the orders that impact Californians on a day-to-day basis while remaining vigilant to protect public health and safety as the pandemic persists,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
Limits on venue capacity and social gatherings are also gone in New York, along with social distancing requirements. Masks are still required in some large venues, on public transportation, in hospitals, and in schools. Fireworks displays were scheduled across the state for Tuesday night.
“We have hit 70% vaccination,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, affirming that 70% of the state’s population had received at least one dose. “We can now return to life as we know it.”