Published On May 18, 2022
Some time during the month of May 2022, the millionth U.S. inhabitant has died—or will die—of COVID-19. That grim milestone is both a cause for mourning those who passed and a chance to reflect on the enormity of the crisis.
Yet shocking numbers have been the hallmark of this pandemic all along. They will continue to be. The following list chronicles the many “millions” that have taken place since the World Health Organization announced the global COVID-19 pandemic on March 11, 2020.
March 2020: 1 Million Zoom Downloads
As state governments began to enforce lockdowns, the nature of work changed. Workers in the millions saw their jobs disappear or go remote. Zoom, a relatively unknown video conferencing platform, skyrocketed to the top of the charts on the App Store and Google Play. Medicine saw its own shift to virtual health, and during the week of March 23, the number of telehealth visits soared to 154% of what it had been the same week in the previous year.
April 2020: 1 Million COVID Cases in the United States
Only four months after the first confirmed COVID infection in the U.S., the country hit one million cases—then about one-third of the world’s reported cases. Yet even though 300,000 of those cases were in the state of New York alone, Governor Andrew Cuomo released a plan for lifting the state’s lockdown within two weeks, the first of many assumptions that the contagion’s end was just around the corner.
September 2020: 1 Million Employees Report Wage Losses
By autumn, the economic strain of the pandemic had become acute. Nearly two million businesses had faced government-mandated shutdowns, and many others struggled or closed. For employees, this meant an array of economic hardships. National food insecurity, which had been at historic lows in 2019, spiked, with an estimated one in seven Americans having trouble affording food in 2020.
November 2020: 1 Million Students Return to Remote Learning in NYC
New York City public schools, closed since March, reopened in September for the new school year. Yet only eight weeks after the much-anticipated return, rising rates of infection sent the system’s one million students back home. While about half of parents with school-age children reported elevated stress during the pandemic, those numbers were higher—often significantly—when children were learning remotely.
December 2020: 1 Million Adults Vaccinated in the United States
After the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency approval to two major vaccines, vulnerable populations and frontline health care workers were first in line to receive their shots. Although early projections called for 20 million Americans to be inoculated by the end of the year, production and logistics hurdles meant that only one million vaccines were administered that first month. By the middle of January, one million shots a day were being given.
January 2021: 1 Million American Healthcare Workers Infected
Despite often harrowing conditions and a dearth of protective equipment, health care workers showed up every day—and as the end of the pandemic’s first year approached, they represented an estimated one in 20 cases of infection. Although fatalities have been hard to track, an investigative project from Kaiser Health News reported 3,607 health care worker deaths in the pandemic’s first year.
Misinformation was among the great drivers of harm from COVID-19, an “infodemic” often as lethal as the virus itself. Yet it was not until the final months of 2020 that Facebook began a concerted effort to combat COVID misinformation across its platforms. By February 2021, Facebook had removed or flagged one million misleading posts about preventing and treating Covid, as well as false claims about COVID vaccines, that could lead to “imminent harm.”
November 2021: 1 Million Lives Saved by COVID Vaccines
One year after the first vaccine was approved, an analysis from the Commonwealth Fund estimated that the U.S. vaccination program had prevented 36 million infections, 10 million hospitalizations and one million deaths. According to this study, most infections prevented by the vaccine would have happened in the late summer and early fall, during the surge of the Delta variant, and would have caused a peak of 21,000 deaths per day.
January 2022: 1 Million U.S. Pediatric Cases in a Single Week
Despite the vaccine’s success among adults, regulators have been slow to approve it for children, who continue to get sick in vast numbers. The week ending January 13 saw 900,000 cases reported among U.S. children, and the following week, that number climbed to 1,151,000.
February 2022: 1 Million U.S. Cases in a Single Day
It was the highest single-day caseload confirmed by any nation since the pandemic began: 1,042,000 positive tests. The record-shattering figure—double that of the previous high in the U.S. and well above the highest single-day case numbers in India during the Delta surge—was driven by the increased infectivity of Omicron variant. Although the magnitude of that number was partly attributed to increased testing—and to several local governments delaying results from over the holidays—it raised ongoing concerns about lifting regulations and mask mandates for a nation that desperately wants a return to normal.
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