As I write today, on Jan. 6, more than 833,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
How do we comprehend such a number? If you have lost a family member or a friend, you know the grief of this epidemic, and yet for all of us the scale of this emergency is hard to take in.
Nearly a year ago, on Feb. 23, the U.S. crossed the half-million mark in losses. As it was noted at the time, the pandemic had claimed in a single year more casualties than World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War, combined. That was a striking fact but somehow no easier for me to comprehend than the magnitude of the raw number.
What if we were to measure our loss in plane crashes? Simple math tells us that if a 747 went down with 500 souls aboard every day, it would take 1,666 days to reach our grim number of 833,000 deaths. That is over four and a half years. Counting back from today, the crashes would have started in June 2016 — a jumbo jet down with no survivors every single day from then until now.
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Conservative projections predict around 15,000 more COVID deaths in the next month — 30 more plane crashes, one each day. And the rate of new infections is not slackening.
If it were in your power to prevent a jet from going down, would you do it? If, at boarding, in addition to wearing your mask, you were offered a vaccination against your plane going down, would you take it? Before you answer, please consider this: we’re all together on that plane.