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U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Nears 500,000

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The total coronavirus death toll in the United States has reached the brink of the 500,000 mark.

A year into the pandemic, the half-a-million mark is expected to be breached on Monday, as the nation's top virus expert warned that normalcy may not return until the end of the year.

According to the Johns Hopkins University tracking website, total U.S. COVID deaths are 498,897, as of February 22.

"It's terrible. It is historic. We haven't seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years, since the 1918 pandemic of influenza," Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

"It's something that is stunning when you look at the numbers, almost unbelievable, but it's true," he added.

With 56,495 new coronavirus cases reported in the U.S. in past 24 hours, the total number of cases in the country has reached 28.13 million.

Texas reported the highest number of new cases during the period at 6,844; followed by New York 6,237; Florida 5,065; California 4,508 and South Carolina 2,872.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline and have halved in the past month. According to the Covid Tracking Project, nearly 56,159 people have been hospitalized across the U.S., with more than 11,800 patients in the ICU, while nearly 3,915 are on a ventilator.

The U.S. is working hard to vaccinate its population against COVID-19 to curb the spread of the disease in the country. The U.S. is currently administering over 1.8 million shots a day.

Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on December 14, more than 63 million doses have been administered, reaching 13.1% of the total U.S. population, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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