Covid: One year on from the first US Covid death - a virus which exposed the country's greatest divides

Pall bearers carry a Covid victim's coffin in LA
More people have died in the US after testing positive for Covid than were killed in the Second World War. Credit: PA

Reading reports of America’s first Covid-19 death feels like reading something from history.

The first mention of an event or moment which was entirely new to the writer but, with the passage of time, entirely familiar to the reader.

Of course that early dreadful milestone was a moment in history but only a year ago.

Normally it takes much longer to move from obscurity to global notability.

What a difference that year has made, that first death, only realised months on, received limited coverage.

Now the TV channels, newspapers and social media are dominated by coronavirus, the government is engaged in the fight against it, society has been changed by it and 459,000 families grieve for those they have lost to it.

Covid has exposed the schisms in this society in terms of healthcare provision, poverty and politics.

It has tested and found wanting a country which likes to believe it is a world leader.

The wearing of a mask has become a political statement in a country where political statements have taken lives.

More Americans have now died than were killed in the Second World War.

Some days, every day now, more die than were killed in 9/11. It is a shameful failure.

As he recovered from his infection, with all treatment options open to him, former president Donald Trump told Americans not to be afraid of Covid-19, not to let it dominate their lives. They were dangerous words.

The new administration is seeking to restore some order, a $1.9 trillion (£1.4 trillion) stimulus deal with billions of dollars focused on Covid relief, a nationwide vaccination programme, a focus on masks and social distancing.

They start from a position of weakness though and catch up takes time.

Many, many more lives will be lost as they try.

This country loves its monuments to the dead, they stand across the county in pride and respect, many detailing the individual names of those lost in battle or national struggle.

Such is the scale it would be impossible to create a monument to the Covid dead.

Perhaps the best way to honour those lost would be to ensure the next pandemic does not find this county so woefully wanting.

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