LIVE: Biden Marks 500,000 U.S. Covid Deaths With Moment of Silence at the White House

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    (Feb. 22)A half-million Americans are now dead as a result of the novel coronavirus that first hit U.S. shores just a little more than a year ago, a sad milestone that’s left families mourning nationwide.

    U.S. deaths passed the 500,000 mark on Monday. Global deaths related to Covid-19 have surpassed 2.46 million, with the U.S. leading all countries with more than twice the number recorded by the next closest, Brazil, according to Bloomberg’s virus tracker.

    Hospitalizations and deaths have fallen since peaking in early January as treatments have improved, a rising number of Americans have gotten natural immunity from surviving the virus, and more people are getting shots of vaccines produced by either Moderna Inc. or the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE team. There’s still a growing threat, though, from swift-moving mutations that have emerged from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, and are now increasingly seen in the U.S.

    “Half a million deaths,” said Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease doctor, on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast on Sunday. “It’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years since the 1918 pandemic of influenza.”

    About 657,000 in the U.S. died during the 1918 influenza pandemic with no vaccines available and no antibiotics to treat secondary infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At least 50 million died worldwide.

    “It’s almost unbelievable,” Fauci said of the latest death toll. “But it’s true.”

    In the beginning of March 2020, only three coronavirus-related deaths had been recorded in the U.S. By mid-April, the seven-day average for deaths topped 2,000. There have been more than 88,200 deaths just in the last month.

    While less than 1% of the U.S. population lives in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, about 35% of deaths have occurred there as of Feb. 18, according to the Long-Term Care COVID Tracker. The need to isolate residents to protect them from infection came at a high cost as families couldn’t talk with and care for older parents and grandparents, and sometimes left them unable to say goodbye.

    Lately, though, there’s been the sense that a turnaround may be possible. Weekly deaths in long-term care centers fell to 4,239 as of Feb. 18 after reaching more than 7,000 a month earlier.

    The number of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients on Feb. 18 fell to the lowest number since Nov. 18, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Still, the overall number remain high at 63,523.

    At the same time, more Americans have now received at least one dose of a vaccine than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. As of Sunday, 63.1 million doses had been given to people in the U.S., a number that leads the world. In the last week, an average of 1.33 million doses a day were administered.

    To speed up vaccinations after a rocky start, the U.S. government on Jan. 12 began encouraging states to start immunizing all residents 65 and older, along with those ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions.

    The changes would open vaccinations up to more than a third of the U.S. population. The Biden administration has said that it’s working to expand the supply of vaccines to help meet that goal.

    By speeding up vaccination, health officials hope to cut off the spread of the mutations emerging from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, the latter two of which have shown an ability to weaken — though not yet overcome — the Pfizer vaccine.

    The mutation that emerged from the U.K. has been particularly aggressive, identified in 1,523 cases in 42 states as of Thursday. Federal officials have expressed concern it could soon become dominant nationwide.

    The variant from South Africa, first identified in the U.S. on Jan. 28, has now infected 21 Americans in 10 states, according to the CDC, with Idaho joining the list as the 11th on Friday. The mutation that emerged from Brazil is the latest to reach U.S. shores. It’s now been identified in five cases in four states — Maryland, Florida, Oklahoma and Minnesota.

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    In This Story: Brazil

    Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America.

    Its capital is Brasília, and its most populous city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states and the Federal District. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas, as well as the most populous Roman Catholic-majority country.

    Its Amazon basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. Brazil is classified as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank and a newly industrialized country.

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    Symptoms of coronavirus

    The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

    • a persistent new cough (non productive, dry)
    • a high temperature (e.g. head feels warm to the touch)
    • shortness of breath (if this is abnormal for the individual, or increased)

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    Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is an American multinational pharmaceutical corporation headquartered in New York City. In 2012, it was one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and ranked 57 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

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    South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent, marked by several distinct ecosystems. Inland safari destination Kruger National Park is populated by big game. The Western Cape offers beaches, lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, craggy cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town, beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.

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