THE United States has today reached the grim milestone of 500,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
It comes as the nation's top virus expert Dr Anthony Fauci warned people will have to be wearing masks well into 2021 in a crisis he described as "historic".
Signs of hope were emerging in the rollout of vaccines and the dropping off of a massive winter spike in infections, but the heavy toll continues to mount in a nation that has reported the most fatalities and cases in the world.
Dr Fauci told NBC's "Meet The Press: "It's terrible. It is historic. We haven't seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years, since the 1918 pandemic of influenza.
"It's something that is stunning when you look at the numbers, almost unbelievable, but it's true."
After the first Covid-19 death was announced in the United States in February 2020, it took about three months to pass the 100,000 mark, during a first wave that hit New York particularly hard.
But as the outbreak spread across the country, the pace of deaths increased, with the toll jumping from 400,000 in just over a month amid a spike fueled in part by holiday gatherings.
Fauci noted that the number of daily new infections was on a steep decline after peaking in January, but he added normal life may still be some way off.
More to follow…
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