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The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 600,000 Tuesday afternoon, 16 months after the first known fatality linked to the coronavirus was confirmed domestically.

The official U.S. count stood at 600,012 just after 1 p.m. and remains the highest total reported by a single country since the pandemic began, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

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That figure is greater than the populations of both Baltimore and Milwaukee and roughly equal to the number of Americans who died of cancer in 2019, The Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 death toll eclipsed 3.8 million, with Brazil reporting the second-highest number of virus-related fatalities at 488,228 and India rounding out the top three with 377,031.

Actual totals in the United States and around the world are thought to be substantially higher, with many cases overlooked or possibly concealed by some nations, the AP reported.

The grim milestone was reached only days after individual states such as California and Massachusetts began lifting states of emergencies and pandemic-era restrictions intended to thwart the virus’ spread.

Meanwhile, virus-related fatalities across the U.S. have decreased sharply since vaccine rollouts began in mid-December, plummeting to an average of around 340 per day, or roughly 10% of the more than 3,400 per day recorded at the outbreak’s mid-January peak.

Likewise, diagnosed daily cases have decreased nationwide nearly 18-fold to about 14,000, compared with a quarter-million per day during the winter months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40% of Americans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while roughly 50% have received at least one vaccine dose to date.

Based on the Johns Hopkins tally, it took four months for the U.S. to record its first 100,000 virus-related deaths, but only slightly more than one month for COVID-19 fatalities to swell from 300,000 to 400,000 during the 2020-21 winter. The most recent 100,000 deaths also occurred over a four-month period.

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