U.S. Surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 Deaths | Sojourners

U.S. Surpasses 200,000 COVID-19 Deaths

A nurse wipes away tears as she stands outside NYU Langone Medical Center on 1st Avenue in Manhattan as New York police came to cheer and thank healthcare workers in New York City, April 16, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY/File Photo

The United States hit another grim milestone Tuesday as the death toll from the spread of the coronavirus exceeded 200,000, by far the highest number of any nation. The United States, on a weekly average, is now losing about 800 lives each day to the virus, according to a Reuters tally. 

Many across the nation expressed their lament for the lives lost and frustration at a lack of leadership.

"200,000. Each person has a family & a story," tweeted Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. "Tens of thousands could’ve been saved if the Trump admin had acted quickly & decisively instead of lying, delaying & dismissing this vicious virus. Elections are always life or death, but we're reminded today how important this one is."

Christian writer and speaker Dante Stewart shared a tribute, tweeting, "Holding space and memory for the 200,000 mommas and daddies, brothers and sisters, grandmamas and granddaddies, friends and lovers who have died in our country from COVID-19. They are not arguing points or 'nobody'. These are real people. Dead. Memories. We love you."

But amid all of the health and economic fallout of the ongoing pandemic, the upcoming presidential election, the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and a seeming constant deluge of news, the marker passed with less public observance than previous milestones, like the 100,000 point in May. 

"Properly mourning and memorializing the dead would require a national reckoning with how government at every level mishandled the pandemic, how the US failed so much in contrast to other countries, and how structural inequalities made the virus much deadlier for Black and Latinx Americans," writes Amber Jamieson in BuzzFeed News. And while some groups are creating place-based memorials, as Jamieson explores in the piece, there's no national effort to memorialize a tragedy we're still experiencing and will be for quite some time. 

When Dr. Anthony Fauci offered modeling estimates in late March, 200,000 was given as the maximum number of lives likely to be lost in the United States to the virus. The current forecast from the University of Washington's health institute has coronavirus fatalaties reaching 378,000 by the end of 2020.

On Monday, President Donald Trump said he had done a phenomenal job managing the pandemic that has infected nearly 6.9 million Americans. 

"It affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing," Trump told supporters at a Swanton, Ohio, campaign rally Monday night. "It affects ... elderly people with heart problems and other problems — if they have other problems that's what it really affects, that's it." 

Trump has admitted to playing down the danger of the coronavirus early on because he did not want to "create a panic." 

Reuters reporting contributed to this story.