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Today the U.S. reaches a grim milestone; one that few us could have imagined a year ago; 500,000 Americans dead of the coronavirus known as COVID-19. This is more than the combined American lives lost in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War.

According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.S. has recorded more than 28 million COVID-19 cases. Globally, COVID-19 cases have topped 111,528,650, and continue to climb. Global deaths stand at 2,468,785.

The numbers are massive enough to nearly numb the general population to the lives behind that number. The grandpas and grandmas, the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the aunts and uncles, the sons and daughters, lost to a pandemic that has shown no mercy; spared some families, and ripped through others.

An emergency hospital in Kansas in 1918 quarantining people with Spanish Influenza.

It is important as we reach this sad numeric, to remember that a century ago, the country lost 650,000 souls during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which lasted through April 1920. The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We might still, even with modern technology and classic social distancing methods, reach that inauspicious number of deaths.

As of this morning, there are still more than 50,000 people hospitalized in America with COVID-19. Dangerous variants of the virus are multiplying, for which the life-protecting COVID-19 vaccines may or may not be effective.

There are hundreds of thousands of Americans, millions around the world, who might have lingering and life-long impacts from the COVID-19 virus; the so-called long-haulers who may never regain their health.

Balancing that sad reality is the hope contained in the vaccines; from Pfizer, Moderna, and next up; Johnson & Johnson. The word is that rural counties appear to be doing a better job of vaccinating their populations than urban areas.

President Joe Biden set a goal of 100 million COVID-19 doses given during his first 100 days in office. As of this morning,  with 65 days left in that first 100 days, 41 million Americans have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This is good news.

This is a race against time and a mutating virus. The sadness of what we have lost permeates the urgency.