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After 12 months and 500K deaths, we must work together to end the pandemic

Date: Feb 21 2021

Contact: Media Relations 

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

We are shattered at the staggering new milestone our nation has reached during the COVID-19 pandemic: As of today, 500,000 people in the U.S. have lost their lives from the disease.

One year after the first recorded U.S. death from COVID-19, we grieve with the millions of people whose families and lives have been devastated by this pandemic.

Our sorrow is compounded by this week’s findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing steep declines in U.S. life expectancy, especially for people of color.

There is hope, however. We as Americans, at the hands of our new leadership, are proving resilient. As we witness a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases — accompanied by findings that there are now more people worldwide vaccinated against the virus than infected with it — there is reason for cautious optimism. We’re now seeing a science-driven course of action, comprising the most collaborative and efficient work our leaders have undertaken since this crisis began.

To change the direction of this pandemic, we must not let our guard down amid these silver linings. As always, wear a mask, practice physical distancing, wash your hands and get your vaccination when it’s available to you. We’re closer to healing and returning to normalcy than we were even a month ago. But to continue the momentum we’ve gained, we will need hope and a commitment from everyone to do their part.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at