US surpasses 600,000 COVID-19 deaths

More than 600,000 people in the U.S. have now lost their lives to COVID-19, a staggering toll that comes even as new infections and deaths steadily decline and much of the country attempts to return to pre-pandemic normal life.

The rate of severe illness and death has fallen dramatically as more and more people get vaccinated, but hundreds of people are still dying daily, offering a striking contrast with the joyous scenes of reopening.

Worldwide, more than 176 million people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker, and more than 3.8 million have died from it.

Progress: The U.S. in late February became the first country to surpass a half-million coronavirus deaths. That it has taken more than three months to reach 600,000 deaths is a testament to the slowing pandemic — it took just a month for the U.S. to jump from 300,000 to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Remaining risk largely for the unvaccinated: The virus is still circulating, and new variants pose an even greater threat to the remaining people who are unvaccinated. Nationally, 64.5 percent of people in America above age 18 have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).