U.S. COVID Death Toll Surpasses 900,000: 'Another Tragic Milestone,' Says Biden

"Each soul is irreplaceable," President Joe Biden said, as deaths increase in states with low vaccination rates

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty

The U.S. has hit "another tragic milestone," President Joe Biden said Friday, as the COVID-19 death toll surpassed 900,000 people.

"900,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19," Biden said in a statement. "They were beloved mothers and fathers, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters, neighbors, and friends. Each soul is irreplaceable."

The jump from 800,000 to 900,000 deaths occurred over less than two months as the omicron variant took hold of the U.S. Though the variant was milder than past strains, those who were unvaccinated still struggled with the virus, and deaths steadily rose from around 1,500 a day in late November, before omicron hit, to now 2,500 a day.

While states with high vaccination rates like New York, Connecticut and Vermont did not see much of an increase in deaths during omicron, those with lower vaccination rates — Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan — had the highest number of deaths per captia.

In his statement, Biden urged Americans who hadn't gotten their shots yet to get vaccinated.

"Vaccines and boosters have proven incredibly effective, and offer the highest level of protection," the president said. "Two hundred and fifty million Americans have stepped up to protect themselves, their families, and their communities by getting at least one shot — and we have saved more than one million American lives as a result."

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As of Feb. 7, about 75.6% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 64.1% are fully vaccinated. Just 42.2% of fully vaccinated people have gotten a booster dose.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control showed that unvaccinated people in the U.S. were 53 times more likely to die of COVID-19 compared to those who are vaccinated and boosted.

"We can save even more lives — and spare countless families from the deepest pain imaginable — if everybody does their part," Biden said.

Biden also acknowledged that the pandemic has been extremely taxing on peoples' mental health, and urged everyone to do their part to bring it to an end.

"After nearly two years, I know that the emotional, physical, and psychological weight of this pandemic has been incredibly difficult to bear. I know what it's like to stare at an empty chair around the kitchen table," he said. "But I also know that we carry an incredible capacity within ourselves — not only to come through our grief stronger, but to come together to protect one another."

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