As death rate slows, U.S. exceeds 600,000 COVID-19 fatalities

By Anurag Maan and Roshan Abraham
(Reuters) - The United States passed the dire milestone of 600,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as the slowdown in vaccination rates threatens the Biden government's goal of 70% of US adults having at least one Vaccination and 160 million will get fully vaccinated by July 4th.
The early success of the U.S. vaccine rollout is having a huge impact on the pace of COVID-19 deaths in the country.
It took 113 days to climb from 500,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the US to 600,000 - the second slowest increase of 100,000 deaths since the pandemic began. The nation rose from 400,000 to 500,000 deaths in just 35 days.
(Graphic: Road to 600K: https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/gjnvwmrjwvw/chart.png)
"My heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one ... We have more work to do to defeat this virus, and now is not the time to lose our vigilance," said President Joe Biden on the fringes of NATO -Meet in Brussels, Belgium and urge people to get vaccinated.
The average of seven-day COVID-19 deaths in the US has fallen nearly 90% since its peak in January. The country reported 18,587 coronavirus-related deaths in May - about 81% fewer than in January, Reuters data showed.
While the epicenter of the pandemic has shifted to places like Brazil and India in recent months, the United States remains the hardest hit nation in terms of cumulative deaths.
However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the country has vaccinated 166 million adults with at least one dose to date, although the rate of vaccinations given has fallen significantly since peaking in mid-April.
The average number of seven-day COVID-19 hospital stays has also fallen since April due to vaccinations. On June 2, the total number of hospitalized patients fell below 20,000 for the first time since June 24, 2020.
However, the number of teenage hospitalizations has increased as more easily transmitted virus variants began to spread, according to recent CDC data.
The rate of hospitalizations for COVID-19 among adolescents ages 12-17 rose to 1.3 per 100,000 people in April from a lower rate in mid-March, the agency reported.
Overall, the daily new COVID-19 cases have also been falling since March, with the country reporting the lowest number of cases per capita in May of this year, according to a Reuters analysis.
With vaccinations to about 1.10 million doses a day last week - about 67% less than the highest 7-day rate - the Biden government and state governors have come up with all kinds of incentives to encourage unvaccinated people to do so bring up their sleeves. These include free childcare and trips to vaccination centers, extended Friday evenings at pharmacies, and the chance to win $ 1 million or college scholarships in a lottery.
According to the CDC, nearly 52% of the US population had received their first dose of vaccine by Sunday.
(Graphic: Covid-19 vaccine doses administered daily in the US: https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/jznvnwmzepl/chart.png)
(Reporting by Anurag Maan and Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Steve Holland in Brussels, Belgium; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Lisa Shumaker)

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