More Americans died from COVID-19 during the first nine months of the year than during the first nine months of the pandemic under Donald Trump’s presidency, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Despite widely available vaccines and Mr. Biden’s pledge to handle the coronavirus better than his predecessor after taking office Jan. 20, Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Research Center reported that, as of Wednesday afternoon, 353,000 Americans had died this year. That surpassed the 352,000 who died from March 2020, when the pandemic started, to December, when the Food and Drug Administration first gave emergency authorization for vaccines.
In a congressional briefing Wednesday, officials with the Coronavirus Research Center said that although delta variant cases and hospitalizations have declined for several weeks, vaccine hesitancy continues and testing has lagged.
“So I would say the simple strategies are, first, to listen to what the concerns are and try as best as possible to understand them,” said Dr. Bill Moss, the center’s vaccinology lead. “If it’s due to misinformation or disinformation, having the right messenger convey that information to the target audience is really critical, and that’s a person who the community or individual trusts, whether that’s a religious leader or a celebrity or sports figure.”
Some Republicans and conservatives on Twitter this week have blamed Mr. Biden for the increase in deaths.
Lavern Spicer, a Republican in Miami-Dade County who lost Florida’s 24th Congressional District race to Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson last year, wrote in a Friday tweet: “Why are Covid deaths higher this year under Biden and with a vaccine, than they were last year under Trump and with no vaccine?”
Conservative talk show host Clay Travis wrote in a tweet on Wednesday: “Joe Biden ran his entire 2020 campaign from his basement arguing he’d make the country safe from covid by following the ‘science.’ Yet more Americans have now died of covid in 2021 under his administration than in 2020 under Trump.”
According to Johns Hopkins, the U.S. surpassed 700,000 deaths at the end of last week, a tally that had risen to more than 710,000 deaths by Friday morning.
In a statement on the 700,000-death milestone last week, President Biden said “the astonishing death toll is yet another reminder of just how important it is to get vaccinated.”
But the president has not commented on this week’s reports in several publications that the 2021 death toll had surpassed 2020.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham, posting a screen capture from CNN on Twitter, said in a Thursday tweet that much of the national media has remained silent about this year’s rising death toll, compared to their coverage of deaths under the Trump administration in 2020.
Ms. Ingraham wrote in her tweet: “The Covid death meter crossed 700,000 with Biden in office. Where’s the once-omnipresent CNN death graphic now?”
Health experts have continued to urge vaccinations in response to the death toll, pointing out that vaccinated people die at a lower rate than unvaccinated people. To date, 76% of Americans 12 and older have received one vaccination shot and 66% of them are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nevertheless, more South Dakota residents died of COVID-19 in September 2021 than died in September 2020, when nobody had been vaccinated, Keloland News reported. That example reflects the larger trends of the Johns Hopkins data and of the World Health Organization dashboard, which reports that the U.S. overall had 156% more cases and 148% more deaths last month than in September 2020.
Correction: This article has been corrected to report that the 2021 COVID-19 death toll is for Jan. 1-Oct 6.