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As Trump heads for the door, US records 400,000th virus death, nearing WWII toll

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The US death toll from the coronavirus has eclipsed 400,000 in the waning hours in office for President Donald Trump, whose handling of the crisis has been judged by public health experts a singular failure.

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The running total of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is nearly equal to the number of Americans killed in World War II. It is equivalent to the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969.

It took 13 weeks to jump from 200,000 to 300,000 deaths and only five weeks to record the most-recent 100,000 deaths.

The nation reached the 400,000 milestone in just under a year.

That means an American is dying roughly every 38 seconds, with the milestone coming after the US surpassed 24 million total cases.

And the virus isn’t finished with the US by any means, even with the arrival of the vaccines that could finally vanquish the outbreak. A widely cited model by the University of Washington projects the death toll will reach nearly 567,000 by May 1.

While the Trump administration has been credited with Operation Warp Speed, the crash program to develop and distribute coronavirus vaccines, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the threat, mocked masks, railed against lockdowns, promoted unproven and unsafe treatments, undercut scientific experts and expressed scant compassion for the victims.

Even his own bout with COVID-19 seemed to leave him unchanged.

The White House defended the administration.

“We grieve every single life lost to this pandemic, and thanks to the President’s leadership, Operation Warp Speed has led to the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time, something many said would never happen,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Wednesday.

Biden and Harris will lead a lighting ceremony at the Reflecting Pool at the Lincoln Memorial, followed by a moment of silence and then 400 bells tolling at the National Cathedral to symbolically honour the COVID-19 dead.

Among the other landmarks participating in the lighting ceremony are the Empire State building in New York City and the Space Needle in Seattle.

-AAP

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