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More Americans Have Died Of COVID-19 Than In World War I, 9/11 & Vietnam War Combined

The coronavirus pandemic has led to more than 200,000 deaths, making it one of the highest mass casualty incidents in modern American history.

200,000 American flags have been placed on the National Mall to honor those who have died from COVID-19 | Getty Images
200,000 American flags have been placed on the National Mall to honor those who have died from COVID-19 | Getty Images

The COVID-19 death toll surpassed 200,000 in the U.S. — cementing its ranking as a leading mass casualty event in modern American history. The virus has killed more people than the combined death tolls of two twentieth-century wars and the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011.

Since its discovery in late 2019, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 31 million people worldwide, including nearly one million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

The U.S. has for months led the world in both deaths and cases, and its death toll has toppled those of other historically significant mass casualty events. More Americans have died from COVID-19 than the combined nearly 178,000 people who died in the military during World War I and The Vietnam War as well as during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The more than 200,000 Americans who have died of the virus trails behind only three other modern U.S. mass casualty events, including World War II’s death toll of nearly 418,000 Americans.

The Spanish flu pandemic and the Civil War caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, with 675,000 and 620,000 deaths, respectively.  

During a Tuesday virtual conference with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci called the 200,000 deaths “very sobering, and in some respects, stunning.” 

As the virus continues to spread in parts of the U.S., many have blamed the Trump administration for its pandemic response that led to overcrowded hospitals, shortages of personal protective equipment, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Tuesday that Trump’s “deadly disinformation and negligence” has contributed to the death toll. 

“The President’s contempt for science, governance and the health of the American people has led to an historic national tragedy,” Pelosi said. “The horrific human toll of this deadly virus is all the more wrenching for its senselessness; it did not have to be this way.”

Trump himself admitted to downplaying the severity of the virus in audio released this month from two interviews during February and March. Back in April, the United States Postal Service was also reportedly preparing to deliver millions of masks to households nationwide before the White House scrapped the plan out of worry that it would “create concern or panic.” 

The Trump administration, however, has repeatedly commended its own pandemic response. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday used a doubted projection model to claim Trump prevented "2 million people potentially" dying from the virus.

Several experts and studies believe that the pandemic could have been slowed by a significant margin if the federal government implemented social distancing and stay-at-home protocols and mask mandates sooner. 

The politicization of lockdown restrictions and mask wearing — which the CDC and several top infectious disease experts have repeatedly recommended— have inflamed the country’s division, as thousands continue to be infected daily. 

Democrats and Republicans have sparred over statewide mandates to help protect residents from spreading the virus, and groups of “anti-maskers” have opposed safety mandates in several parts of the country.