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|CORRECTED-U.S. COVID-19 Deaths Cross Painful 600000 Milestone As Country Reopens by Matsones: 2:27am On Jun 18|
The United States has now lost over 600,000 mothers, fathers, children, siblings and friends to COVID-19, a painful reminder that death, sickness and grief continue even as the country begins to return to something resembling pre-pandemic normal.
A bride forced by the pandemic to have a Zoom wedding is planning a lavish in-person anniversary celebration this summer, but all of the guests must attest they are vaccinated.
A Houston artist, still deep in grief, is working on a collage of images of people who died in her community. Others crowd theaters and bars, saying it is time to move on.
“There will be no tears - not even happy tears,” said Ali Whitman, who will celebrate her first wedding anniversary in August by donning her gown and partying with 240 vaccinated friends and family members in New Hampshire.
COVID-19 nearly killed her mother. She spent her wedding day last year with 13 people in person while an aunt conducted the ceremony via Zoom.
“I would be remiss not to address how awful and how terrible the past year has been, but also the gratitude that I can be in a singular place with all the people in my life who mean so much to me,” said Whitman, 30.
The United States passed 600,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, about 15% of the world’s total coronavirus fatalities of around 4 million, a Reuters tally shows.
The rate of severe illness and death has dropped dramatically as more Americans have become vaccinated, creating something of a psychological whiplash that plagues the millions whose lives have been touched by the disease. Many are eager to emerge from more than a year of sickness and lockdown, yet they still suffer - from grief, lingering symptoms, economic trauma or the isolation of lockdown.
“We’ve all lived through this awful time, and all of us have been affected one way or another,” said Erika Stein, who has suffered from migraines, fatigue and cognitive issues since contracting COVID-19 last fall. “My world flipped upside down in the last year and a half - and that’s been hard.”
Stein, 34, was active and fit, working as a marketing executive and fitness instructor in Virginia outside Washington, D.C., before the initial illness and related syndrome known as long-COVID ravaged her life.
Like many, she has mixed feelings about how quickly cities and states have moved to lift pandemic restrictions and re-open.
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