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Iran Press TV

Bells toll as US passes 500,000 COVID deaths; Fauci blames political divisions

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 23 February 2021 6:49 AM

The United States COVID-19 death toll has passed half a million as US experts blame political divisions for the "stunning" milestone.

The COVID fatalities reached 500,172 while the national case count rose to 28,184,218 as of 18:23 Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Monday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

The US virus death toll is even more than that of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined. Nevertheless, many health experts have said that the real number of fatalities may be higher, says US media.

The COVID-19 fatalities have increased rapidly in the past two months in the United States. It took only 34 days for the death toll to reach 500,000 from 400,000.

Anthony Fauci, US top infectious disease expert, said on Monday that the United States, as a highly developed rich country, has done worse than most of other countries in dealing with the COVID-19.

At the early phase of the outbreak in the United States, the Trump administration had misled the public with words weakening the existence and threats of the coronavirus and missed the best opportunity to curb the disaster.

In April 2020, the then U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that injecting disinfectant into human body might kill the coronavirus, which astonished the public. It was not the first time he made such statement in order to shirk his responsibilities from the outbreak.

US media said on Monday described the millstone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths as a nightmare that seemed "unfathomable" a year ago.

'Truly grim and heartbreaking'

US President Joe Biden observed a moment of silence on Monday to commemorate the grim milestone of 500,000 US virus deaths, urging Americans to set aside partisan differences and unite in the fight against the pandemic.

Biden held a candle-lighting ceremony at the White House alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, calling the milestone "truly grim" and "heartbreaking."

"That's more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth," he said.

"They're never truly gone. They'll always be part of your heart."

He noted that the pandemic has taken more American lives than WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined.

"While we were fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as this as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do so to honor the dead, but equally important, care for the living, those left behind," Biden said.

'US political divisions contributed to 500,000 dead'

Fauci, US top infectious disease expert, said political divisiveness contributed significantly to the "stunning" US COVID-19 death toll.

He said the pandemic arrived in the United States as the country was riven by political divisions in which wearing a mask became a political statement rather than a public health measure.

"Even under the best of circumstances, this would have been a very serious problem," Fauci said.

He noted that despite strong adherence to public health measures, countries such as Germany and the UK struggled with the virus.

"However, that does not explain how a rich and sophisticated country can have the most percentage of deaths and be the hardest-hit country in the world," said Fauci.

"That I believe should not have happened," US top infectious disease expert said.



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