200,000 dead: How does COVID-19 rank in U.S. History?

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Super-high magnification of coronavirus particles (like the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic) spread through tiny droplets of liquid (aerosols) floating through the air. Illustration for means of transmission: droplet and aerosolized infection.

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — As the U.S. has hit a dubious milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 200,000 Americans have died from the virus since it arrived in the U.S. earlier this year.

To provide some perspective we have compared those numbers to the deaths from other documented pandemics in U.S. history and also compared them to those killed in some of America’s wars.

The biggest single event killer in U.S. History was the 1918-19 pandemic that was more popularly known as the Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 675,000 Americans.

The next biggest killers were the American Civil War and World War II, followed by COVID-19.

Note: the 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 are estimates from Johns Hopkins University. Death tolls from previous pandemics are estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. American war deaths are numbers from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Civil War deaths include members of the United States military and those of the rebel Confederate forces.


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