US Covid Death Count Crosses 6,00,000, New York Drops Curbs

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NPR has this context: "Barely a month passed between 400,000 and a half-million deaths, but it has taken almost four times as long to reach the 600,000 mark".

Worldwide, the US still is reporting the greatest total deaths, followed by Brazil, India and Mexico. The nation went from 400,000 to 500,000 deaths in just 35 days.

The US death count from Covid-19 surpassed 600,000 on Tuesday, although authorities hailed progress towards a return to normality as its world-leading vaccination program promised to turn the page on one of the worst health crises in its history.

"We have hit 70 percent vaccination", state Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Progress against the coronavirus was underlined as NY announced more than 70 percent of adults had received at least one vaccine dose and the last of the state's restrictions could be lifted. Close to 65% of all American adults have at least one dose nationwide.

But the country has so far vaccinated 166 million adults with at least one dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although the rate of shots administered has dropped significantly from a mid-April peak.

And the once-plummeting rate of new USA deaths from COVID-19 also appears to have slowed in recent weeks, as cases continue to spread mostly among non-vaccinated people.

USA health officials have also stepped up their warnings over faster-spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

To date, 64% of the US adult population has received one dose of the COVID vaccine, according to the CDC, with 43% of the eligible public fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

"We have more work to do to beat this virus and now's not the time to let our guard down", said President Joe Biden on the sidelines of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meetings in Brussels, Belgium, urging people to get vaccinated.

On Monday, the CDC joined other public health organizations around the world in classifying the so-called Delta variant, first spotted in India, as a "variant of concern", instead of merely a "variant of interest". "Please get vaccinated as soon as possible".

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