USA Passes 250,000 Dead from COVID-19

Yet another grim milestone.

Thanks to sheer incompetence and indifference on the part of the Trump administration, combined with reckless disregard for their fellow citizens on the part of far too many Americans, we are now beyond almost all the worst-case forecasts when the novel coronavirus hit our shores in February.

According to Worldometers, we passed the quarter-million dead mark yesterday.

The daily death toll is now almost as high as it was when we had much of the country in a partial lockdown in an effort to “flatten the curve.”

The only good news, aside from the real hope that a viable vaccine is expected to start being available in January, is that the death rate seems to be going way down. That, alas, is because of the very bad news that the daily cases are exploding:

Despite far more people getting sick than at the previous peak of the crisis, they’re dying at a far lower rate. Presumably, that’s both a function of our healthcare professionals having developed better protocols and the first wave disproportionately killing the most vulnerable.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. PJ says:

    People are dying at a far lower rate, which likely will mean that they will end up in hospital longer, occuping ICU beds, etc longer, then add to that that more people are getting covid. No free ICU beds, etc or staff to treat them, which would likely lead to more deaths…

  2. gVOR08 says:

    Here’s my usual note for future reference that per WIKI we lost 419,400 dead to WWII. That took almost four years.

  3. charon says:

    Bear in mind Mary L. Trump predicting Trump would go out breaking things.

    Don’t expect this administration to be doing much.

  4. We are poised to be adding a million or more cases a week.

    Meanwhile, the President is ranting about himself.

  5. charon says:

    Despite far more people getting sick than at the previous peak of the crisis, they’re dying at a far lower rate. Presumably, that’s both a function of our healthcare professionals having developed better protocols and the first wave disproportionately killing the most vulnerable.

    Much more young people proportionately in the recent infections. But also, there is a lag, people currently dying reflect the new case rate from 3 weeks ago or so. On the other thread, I posted new cases are currently double two weeks ago.

  6. charon says:

    Washington Post:

    Since Election Day and for weeks prior, Trump has all but ceased to actively manage the deadly pandemic, which so far has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million and choked the country’s economy. The president has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in “at least five months,” said one senior administration official with knowledge of the meetings who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details.

    The president is no longer regularly briefed on the pandemic by his team of doctors, and he rarely reads the daily virus reports prepared by Birx, a senior administration official said. The reports have grown increasingly grim in recent weeks, aides said, but are largely ignored in the West Wing. Several of the administration’s top medical experts — including Birx, Fauci and Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams — have only infrequently visited the White House in recent weeks, administration officials said.

  7. Nightcrawler says:

    Not to mention, many of the people who are being saved are left with serious health problems. Some of them are so disabled they can no longer work. There are no effective treatments, and nobody has any idea what will happen to survivors years or decades down the road.

    I fear surviving C19 way more than I do dying of it.

  8. Jack Kelly says:

    1957 “Asian Flu” H2N2 – 116,000 US deaths out of population of 172 million (0.07% of population), R naught of 1.65

    2020 Covid-19 – 250,000 US Deaths out of population of 331milliom (0.075% of population, R naught of 2.5

    Not a Trump fan, but I’m curious what percentage of Covid-19 deaths do you think a competent leader (like Eisenhower in 1957) could have prevented?

  9. charon says:

    An embedded video here with closed captioning:

    MOTHER OF GOD—El Paso nurse’s horrifying story of hospital situation. There is a COVID room nicknamed “the pit” where no doctors enter, patients only get 3 CPR cycles—patients are sent there to just wait, code & die. None has survived “the pit”. #COVID19

    Current new cases in El Paso: 181.5/100K, just a bit higher than ND and SD.

  10. James Joyner says:

    @Jack Kelly: There’s no way to know the counter factual but a conservative estimate is about half of the deaths are attributable to Trump’s malfeasance.

  11. Dutchgirl says:

    @charon: The video is shocking and terrifying, and exactly the result we have been anticipating. It’s shocking but entirely predictable.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charon: @Dutchgirl: We ain’t seen nothing yet.

  13. Dutchgirl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I sadly agree.

    Here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we are the lone spot that’s staying level at about 100 cases per day and manageable hospital bed use. Our Lt Governor is an ER doc and has been a trusted and effective public communicator. As we worry about re-opening to tourists, possibly from hot spots, he pointed out that in those areas it is very hard to get a COVID test within the timeline parameters set to enter Hawaii without quarantine. Those areas are way behind in testing. Winter is coming.

  14. Jack Kelly says:

    @James Joyner: so we’re half of the 1957 flu deaths attributed to the president, that pathogen was less contagious?

  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jack Kelly: Please remember that 250,000 deaths is to date. And the Eisenhower number is for the end of the 2-year run of Asian Flu. If Covid-19 runs as long as Spanish Flu or Asian Flu did, we’re about a third of the way through.

    Adjusting for sequence, not entirely fair I will admit, gives us ~40,000 at that stage compared to 250,000 at the approximate same phase in the range. You seem to be good at math, so I’ll let you crunch the R-naughts. Although we may get lucky, have zero additional deaths [eyeroll emoji], and then Trump’s handling will only look hamfisted.

  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jack Kelly:

    It also should be pointed out that medical care is far more advanced than it was 60+ years ago. If the Asian flu happened in today’s healthcare environment, far more people would have survived.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jack Kelly: Half the deaths? It appears to me, though I’m not as good at maths as you are, 250,000/330 million is about the same as 116,000/172 million. And again, we’re matching the death rate only one third to halfway through the course we might expect of the epidemic.

    Maybe I am as good at maths as you are. Hmmm…

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: Its not just Trump. Mitch McConnell has refused to conduct oversight and the Republican Supreme Court has made it clear that Republican Administration officials are free to ignore subpoenas from the Democratic house.

    The modern Republican Party is an active harm to the citizens of the US and the world.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    State of Utah statement on what it means for hospital resources to be maxed out:

    When hospital resources are maxed out, doctors must make tough choices about who gets scarce attention, drugs and supplies. Years ago, the State of Utah with the Utah Hospital Association drafted Crisis Standards of Care, which guides doctors in deciding who gets care and who doesn’t, based on who is most likely to survive. The Standards have been updated to reflect the unique issues of the pandemic.

    Although no one wants to make such choices, our escalating case counts put us on a trajectory that might require it.

  20. Jax says:

    The Republican Governor of Wyoming just called the anti-maskers knuckleheads, and I almost fell out of my chair laughing. I suspect our Governor has decided not to run for a second term and has no fucks left to give.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    ‘Maths,’ eh? Plural? Hmmm?

    Well, well, well, our supposed ‘ignint cracker’ is clearly. . . drumroll. . . British!

    I oppose the pluralization of ‘math’ as a needless and injurious slur on all who, like me, can’t even do one math let alone multiple maths.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    By the way, the notion, dear to many, of cutting pay to doctors and nurses to control health care costs, has been stomped into the mud for at least 20 years. What the RAF were to Britain in 1940, these doctor and nurses are in this country, now. So much owed to so few.

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds: As with our brave armed forces, who is getting the money does not align very well with who is doing the dirty work. If Medicare can negotiate rates that doctors will accept, it’s hard to argue that paying 10x that much for the same service is appropriate, just because the patient isn’t a member of a group with a strong advocate.

    I’m all for compensating the front line fighters against COVID appropriately — but that’s not what’s driving up everyone’s healthcare costs. Europe has proven that medicine can be a lot cheaper, and yet better, than the way we do it here. The trick is to unionize the patients, in effect.

  24. Teve says:

    Ed Yong retweeted


    ICU admissions lag behind hospitalizations lag behind cases lag behind behaviors. So unless Oklahomans took major strides weeks ago, the roof is about to blow off its ICUs.

  25. EddieInCA says:

    It’s about to get horrific. SD, ID, WY, ND, MT, have no idea what’s coming their way.

    I keep using this quick anecdote to show people what’s coming.

    Assume you have a 5 acre lake. In that lake is one single lily pad. That lily pad doubles in size every day, and completely covers the surface of the lake in exactly 30 days.

    How many days does it take to get the lake 1/8 filled with lily pads? 27
    How many days does it take to get the lake 1/4 filled with lily pads?28
    How many days does it take to get the lake 1/2 filled with lily pads? 29

    Most of these states are in day 23 or 24. What’s coming is horrible.

    They can’t stay outside. It’s too cold.

  26. EddieInCA says:

    1st million cases in USA: 98 days
    2nd million cases in USA: 44 days
    3rd million cases in USA: 26 days
    4th million cases in USA: 14 days
    5th million cases in USA: 10 days
    6th million cases in USA: 6 days

  27. de stijl says:

    As of Friday I am a case. (Confirmed)

    Suspected as much for a week so I isolated.

    Nothing intense. Fever, chills. Body aches on the big bones. Coughing but not harshly so. Slept for 18 hours out of 24 one day in bursts.

    Sucks. I had worse. Today was better.

    I was so careful.