Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
NPR Health

As Americans Observe Memorial Day, The U.S Inches Towards A Grim COVID-19 Milestone

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Tomorrow on Memorial Day, the United States will probably reach 100,000 deaths in the current pandemic. It's a staggering, incomprehensible number, more than the nation lost in the Vietnam and Korean wars combined. Yet a pandemic isn't a war. The horrors of the battlefield are unique, and the fighters who fall there deserve the moment of honor and reflection we give them tomorrow. But there are echoes of wartime struggles in a pandemic, fear as we face harm and struggle, especially the real physical struggle of those who fall ill. We haven't been talking about things like ventilators recently, but there are people on them fighting to breathe, now in places like Montgomery, Ala., where the ICUs are full this weekend. There is also in this pandemic sacrifice. Forty million people are jobless, another staggering incomprehensible number. But there is also hope. New York state, the hardest hit by the pandemic, has seen its deaths plummet to below 100 a day from over a thousand. The lesson - a shared sense of duty to wear a mask, to keep our distance, to be mindful of the people and communities who are particularly vulnerable and to keep them from being needlessly in harm's way can save lives. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.