Medical Examiner

On Top of Everything Else, Wednesday Was Also the Deadliest Day of the Pandemic

A mask is left behind on the Capitol floor.
A mask is left behind in a hallway at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Wednesday saw nearly 4,000 recorded deaths due to the coronavirus. The number varies slightly depending on the source—the New York Times clocked it at 3,964; Johns Hopkins counted 3,865. There were possibly more deaths than any of those estimates, deaths that went unrecorded. But with the numbers we have, that’s one death every 22 seconds.

The deadliest day of the pandemic wasn’t even front-page news:

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What’s more, the riot that unfolded at the Capitol on Wednesday, and pushed the pandemic to the inside of newspapers, may well contribute to the COVID death toll, though it will be difficult if not impossible to trace. It’s a cost that will be faint and subtle in the data but no less real than the four lives lost due to acute injuries Wednesday. The chaos in D.C. also caused an early shutdown of testing and vaccination sites, thereby leaving positive cases unchecked just a little longer and delaying immunity for vulnerable people:

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It feels superfluous to point out that the people who stormed the Capitol were not consistently wearing masks, distancing, or refraining from shouting, which is a good way to project aerosols:

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Whether the storming of the capitol was a superspreader event for a deadly virus remains to be seen. Whether the members of the House and Senate who had to shelter in place with Republicans who refused to wear masks will get sick also remains to be seen. While the mob took selfies and nearly the entire federal government hid, L.A. rationed medical care, Arizona double-bunked patients in hospital rooms, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that a mutant strain of the virus would, in the coming weeks, increase.

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