The U.S. on Wednesday surpassed 1 million COVID-19 deaths, according to data compiled by NBC News — a once-unthinkable scale of loss even for the country with the world's highest recorded toll from the virus.
The number — equivalent to the population of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the U.S. — was reached at stunning speed: 27 months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus.
"Each of those people touched hundreds of other people," said Diana Ordonez, whose husband, Juan Ordonez, died in April 2020 at age 40, five days before their daughter Mia's fifth birthday. "It's an exponential number of other people that are walking around with a small hole in their heart."
While deaths from COVID have slowed in recent weeks, about 360 people have still been dying every day. The casualty count is far higher than what most people could have imagined in the early days of the pandemic, particularly because former President Donald Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus while in office.