The U.S. topped 500,000 COVID-19 deaths Monday, based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The somber milestone comes amid growing hopes that vaccination programs are beginning to cut into the rate of infection and spread of the deadly disease.
But the U.S., whose botched and politicized initial responses to the pandemic opened the path for widespread infection, continues to suffer an outsized impact compared with other countries.
The U.S. has only about 4% of the world’s population, but has suffered more than 20% of COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.
President Joe Biden is slated to hold a memorial service in Washington Monday evening in remembrance of the victims of the disease. In addition he’s ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff for five days in honor of the victims.
The U.S has administered at least 64 million vaccination doses, according to Johns Hopkins data. Nearly 20 million Americans, or 6% of the population, have received both shots required with the currently available vaccines.
Medical experts say herd immunity requires 80% or more of a population to have either been vaccinated, or to have recovered from the disease and developed antibodies against future infections.
But the coronavirus vaccine that causes COVID-19 has mutated frequently, with some variants appearing to be far more contagious.
The economic disruptions caused by the pandemic have continued to play out since the disease first appeared in the U.S. just over a year ago. The U.S. Congress is considering Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package to provide direct aid to most Americans, support for local governments hard hit by tax losses, and additional supplemental unemployment benefits currently slated to end next month.