More than 600,000 people in the U.S. have now lost their lives to COVID-19, a staggering toll that comes even as new infections and deaths steadily decline and much of the country attempts to return to pre-pandemic normal life.

The rate of severe illness and death has fallen dramatically as more and more people get vaccinated, but hundreds of people are still dying daily, offering a striking contrast with the joyous scenes of reopening.

Worldwide, more than 176 million people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to

, and more than 3.8 million have died from it.

The U.S. in late February became the first country to 

. That it has taken more than three months to reach 600,000 deaths is a testament to the slowing pandemic — it took just a month for the U.S. to jump from 300,000 to 400,000 COVID-19 deaths.

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