The United States surpassed 800,000 COVID-19-related deaths this week, the highest reported toll of any country.
The grim milestone was reached amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Northeast and growing concerns about the omicron variant, according to data from John Hopkins University.
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The death toll from COVID-19 is now greater than the population of at least four U.S. states, including Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, and North Dakota. It is also greater than the population of Washington, D.C.
The U.S. topped 700,000 deaths at the beginning of October, meaning it only took about two and a half months to add 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. This occurred despite the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the first quarter of 2021.
"As we mark the tragic milestone of 800,000 American deaths due to COVID-19, we remember each person and the lives they lived, and we pray for the loved ones left behind. I know what it’s like to stare at an empty chair around the kitchen table, especially during the holiday season, and my heart aches for every family enduring this pain," President Joe Biden said in a statement Tuesday. "To heal, we must remember. We must also act," he added before advocating for vaccinations.
The U.S. currently has 72.2% of its total population vaccinated with at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has 70.4% of its population ages 12 and older fully vaccinated with at least two doses of the vaccine, according to the CDC.
COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are currently dominated by the delta variant, which is believed to account for 96% of sequenced cases, Bloomberg News reported, with the CDC announcing Tuesday that it estimates omicron makes up 3% of sequenced cases.
The omicron variant is believed to be more transmissible, but less lethal, than most other COVID-19 strains.
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Despite having about 4% of the world's population, the U.S. comprises about 15% of the world's known death toll from COVID-19. It is ranked 20th in the world for deaths per 100,000 people, according to John Hopkins University.
U.S. COVID-19 deaths in 2021 surpassed 2020's death toll in late November, according to the Wall Street Journal.