On Thursday, the same day that COVID-19 cases hit their lowest point since the beginning of the pandemic, the United States surpassed 600,000 coronavirus deaths, according to a tally from NBC News. The milestone is a grim reminder that Americans are still losing their lives to the virus as the nation makes impressive strides in vaccinating everyone who opts in that is over the age of 12.
Deaths have slowed tremendously since the vaccine rollout gained momentum late this winter. While it took the nation three months to go from 500,000 to 600,000 deaths, it took just one month to go from 400,000 to 500,000.
Since the shot was made available to all American adults in late April, the U.S. has made great progress in the vaccination effort, surpassing 50 percent of all adults in late May. But the effort appears to be stalling amid vaccine hesitation and unequal access: Thursday also marked the first time since January that the seven-day average of new vaccinations fell below 1 million shots per day since January, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
CDC forecasting also suggests that the death rate will continue to decline over the next four weeks, with “800 to 4,800 new deaths likely reported in the week ending June 26, 2021.” While the decline is promising, that thousands of deaths are still anticipated for June reveals the danger of the virus among vulnerable populations and the unvaccinated. That threat was made more clear by an analysis in late May by the Washington Post, which suggested that the coronavirus death rate among adults who haven’t been vaccinated is as high as it was in March.