Published: 17:23, September 24, 2021 | Updated: 12:18, September 27, 2021
US virus deaths top 1918 flu estimates
By Xinhua

A man expresses his mourning with music beside white flags placed on the National Mall to honor the lives lost to COVID-19, in Washington, DC, on Sept 18. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

US COVID-19-related deaths on Sept 20 surpassed 675,000, the estimated US fatalities from the 1918 influenza pandemic, while battles over vaccines and masks continue as the country staggers into the 19th month of the pandemic.

As of late afternoon on Sept 20, 675,446 Americans have died due to COVID-19, with the total caseload exceeding 42 million, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The fatalities are expected to continue to rise as the country is currently experiencing another wave of new infections, fueled by the fast-spreading Delta variant.

“We cannot become hardened to the continuing, and largely preventable, tragedy,” Tom Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tweeted earlier this September.

The dismal milestone of surpassing the 1918 death toll came as US citizens remain divided over mask and vaccine mandates.

Early in September, United States President Joe Biden announced a six-pronged national strategy as a path to ending the pandemic.

As of Sept 20, over 181.7 million Americans, or 54.7 percent of the US population, have been fully inoculated, according to the CDC.

Expressing his frustration with the roughly 80 million Americans who are eligible for shots but have not received them, Biden is requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested weekly.

Biden’s new vaccine mandates, which could apply to as many as 100 million Americans, or almost two-thirds of the US workforce, have spawned a strong pushback from quite a number of Republican states and unions.

Also, many Americans believe whether to get vaccinated should be a personal decision, instead of a government mandate.

Polls show that those who reject vaccines are more worried about possible side effects of the vaccines than they are about COVID-19. Social media is also rife with conspiracy theories about vaccines.