How America’s Daily COVID-19 Death Toll Compares To Historical Tragedies

by Jeremy

A year has passed since the first two recorded fatalities from COVID-19 in the United States. More than 460,000 Americans have fallen into the pandemic since then.

The death toll is already higher than that of the Civil War and World War II. The U.S. is at risk of surpassing the grim milestone set by the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919: 675,000 deaths.


This degree of death and suffering is hard to comprehend. This pandemic’s ongoing, contagious nature has left friends and families to mourn in isolation, out of sight from the rest of us. In many ways, we have become numb to its carnage.

To illustrate the scale of loss, HuffPost compared the ongoing pandemic to other mass casualty events from U.S. history. 

An average of 2,885 Americans is dying from COVID-19 every day, according to the COVID Tracking Project’s seven-day average, as of Feb. 8. That’s a staggering figure ― about as many Americans perished in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906 and during Hurricane Maria in 2017. Daily fatalities are much higher than the worst mass shooting and the deadliest air crash in U.S. history. 

Another way of contextualizing the damage done by the novel coronavirus pandemic is comparing it to each of America’s wars, its deadliest battle, and its worst terrorist attack. More Americans are dying from COVID-19 each day than during the entire War of 1812, which lasted three years. At its current pace, COVID-19 is killing as many Americans every 100 days as during all four years of U.S. combat fatalities in WWII.

COVID-19 Pandemic: COVID Tracking Project

San Francisco Earthquake and Fire: United States Geological Survey

Sandy Hook Shooting: Encyclopedia Britannica

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Oklahoma City Bombing: FBI

American Airlines Flight 191 Crash: Federal Aviation Administration

Sept. 11 Attacks: 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Great Chicago Fire: Encyclopedia Britannica

Afghanistan War and Iraq War: Department of Defense

Pearl Harbor Attack: National World War II Museum

Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War: Department of Veterans Affairs

Battle of Gettysburg: Encyclopedia Britannica

A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus

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