• The US has surpassed one million deaths from COVID-19.
  • According to Johns Hopkins university, the horrific milestone was reached on Tuesday.
  • The rate of fully vaccinated Americans is 66%, a number which has not budged much recently.

The US has surpassed one million deaths caused by COVID-19, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.

The tragic milestone comes just over two years into the pandemic and as new variants and subvariants related to Omicron continue to surge, including one that is 25% more transmissible than the variant making up the majority of current cases.

"It is terrible — horrible," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's chief medical adviser, told NPR. "To have that many people die of a transmissible disease in a two-year period — it is very sobering, and very sad and tragic."

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization estimated that the global toll of the virus in its first two years was 15 million deaths. 

The milestone comes as the US struggles to contain the virus amid growing reluctance to protect against it. In late April, a Florida judge controversially struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's indoor travel mask mandate – a move which the Biden administration's Department of Justice signaled that it would appeal at the CDC's recommendation. Several major US airlines immediately dropped mask requirements following the ruling. 

According to CDC data, just over 66% of Americans are fully vaccinated – a rate that has largely plateaued since February. States across the US have also relaxed outdoor and indoor mask mandates over the last few months.

Last week, as the US drew nearer to the million mark, President Joe Biden asked that flags in public buildings be flown at half-staff. 

"As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow," he said in a statement. "To heal, we must remember. We must remain vigilant against this pandemic and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.'' 

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