America’s worst flu season in recent years was in 2017-2018 when more than 61,000 people died, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The only deadlier flu seasons were in 1967 when about 100,000 Americans died, 1957 when 116,000 died and the Spanish flu of 1918 when 675,000 died, according to the CDC.
The United States has the world’s highest coronavirus death toll and a daily average of 2,000 people died in April of the highly contagious respiratory illness COVID-19, according to a Reuters tally. The first US death was recorded on February 29 but recent testing in California indicates the first death might have been on Feb 6, with the virus circulating weeks earlier than previously thought.
On Wednesday, COVID-19 deaths in the United States eclipsed in a few months the 58,220 Americans killed during 16 years of U.S. military involvement during the Vietnam War. Cases topped 1 million.
The actual number of cases is thought to be higher, with state public health officials cautioning that shortages of trained workers and materials have limited testing capacity.
The outbreak could take nearly 73,000 US lives by August 4, compared with an April 22 forecast of over 67,600, according to the University of Washington’s predictive model here often cited by White House officials.
In early March, the prospect that the coronavirus would kill more Americans than the flu was unthinkable to many politicians who played down the risk of the new virus.
Republican President Donald Trump tweeted on March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on.”