- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2021

COVID-19 killed more people in this calendar year than in 2020, according to federal data that shows the staying power of the virus despite the advent of vaccines nearly a year ago.

USA Today analyzed the numbers and found 377,883 people died in 2020 out of 770,461 recorded deaths, meaning about 14,700 more people succumbed to COVID-19 in 2021 with over a month still to go.

It is possible there were more deaths in 2020 from COVID-19 than realized. Experts say deaths were likely mischaracterized early in the pandemic before there was enough testing and know-how to recognize the disease.

The figures have political undertones. President Biden pledged to wrangle the virus after chastising former President Donald Trump for his handling of the pandemic. 

Some of the deadliest days of the pandemic were during mid-January of this year while Mr. Trump was in the final weeks of his presidency.

But Mr. Biden saw early strides against the virus evaporate with the onset of the delta variant and is contending with another winter surge.

Hospitalizations are starting to increase and exceed 50,000 in recent days, and scientists are worried that the holidays will fuel an uptick in places around the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said Americans should feel comfortable gathering for Thanksgiving if everyone in the house is vaccinated, though he urged travelers to wear masks.

The White House says unvaccinated persons are to blame for fueling the pandemic and alluded to its dismay that areas that backed Mr. Trump, who oversaw the development of the vaccines, are among the most hesitant to take the shots.

It is attempting to lift vaccine rates through mandates, but its critics say the administration should do a better job educating people about the shots instead of forcing them on workers.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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