Understanding the massive scale of coronavirus in the US

AJ Willingham, Renée Rigdon and Curt Merrill, CNN
Updated September 22, 2020

In a matter of months, the coronavirus crisis has exploded into a pandemic of historic proportions. Like a wave, the numbers of those sickened and killed by the virus have swelled in quick succession, leaving many bereft, isolated and wondering, “How did we get here?”

Since the first known Covid-19 death in February, more than 200,000 deaths have been reported on American soil. A timeline of this grim reality reveals a country trying to come to terms with the crisis while the death toll continues to rise, surpassing the losses of major wars, the attacks on 9/11 and numerous other outbreaks.

As the country begins to reopen, it’s clear that life will look starkly different on the other side of the crisis. In just months, more than 200,000 people have died in the US with a global toll of nearly one million lives, a scale both difficult to comprehend and beyond any pandemic in recent history.

These massive numbers are not just anonymous figures. They represent individual lives — and the countless loved ones left behind in the wake of the pandemic, grappling with how to mourn and pay tribute to the people they’ve lost. Read some of their stories here.

Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering; Congressional Research Service; US Department of Defense; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; World Health Organization; Government of Puerto Rico; Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom; National Hurricane Center; 9/11 Memorial & Museum; US Department of Labor; US Census Bureau; NYMEX; County of Santa Clara, California; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct amount of time it took to surpass 100,000 deaths.