U.S. exceeds 400,000 coronavirus deaths

On December 1st at roughly 4:45 pm Central time, 86-year-old COVID-19 patient Florence Bolton was blanketed by the loving tones of her grandchildren, her ventilator temporarily removed by a nurse in an effort to help her see the faces of her family members perched on an iPad screen above.

Less than 24 hours later, Bolton was pronounced dead.

Tragically, she is now one of more than 400,000 Americans to have died from COVID-19 – a heartbreaking and once unimaginable milestone crossed in the U.S. on Tuesday.

And yet, the situation will still get worse - with another 100,000 deaths expected by mid-February - said incoming head of the Centers for Disease Control Rochelle Walensky on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ Sunday.

“We still yet haven’t seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel, from holiday gatherings in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter. So yes, I think we still have some dark weeks ahead.”

At Providence St. Mary Medical Center in rural Apple Valley, California – where COVID-19 patients line the hallways due to a lack of ICU beds - Executive Director of Acute Care Mendy Hickey offered a stark, emphatic reminder: it’s not just the elderly who are dying.

“There are a lot of young people. We had a 28-year-old. We had a 36-year-old. We had a 34-year-old. [teary] You have to walk their family in here to see them for the last time. And they have young kids. It’s such an awful thing. And I just think, gosh, if we had just been a little bit more careful we could have spared that person’s life.”

Hickey added that the political climate exacerbates her frustration and desperation in trying to keep people healthy.

"It really gets to me when people say it’s political, or that it’s a fake disease, or the Democrats this or the Republicans that. Because I guarantee that the patients in these beds and the family members that are watching their loved ones die could care less what political party they belong with. I wish people would just take it seriously and believe us.”

While some health officials have expressed concerns about a more contagious variant of the virus spreading across the country, there are glimmers of hope amid the despair.

Like in California – a surging hotspot since November - but where last week’s hospitalization numbers began to decline, prompting California’s Health and Human Services Secretary to say (quote), "it’s the biggest signal to me that things are beginning to flatten and potentially improve."

Video Transcript

- Yeah, we love you.

- On December 1, at roughly 4:45 PM Central Time, 86-year-old COVID-19 patient Florence Bolton was blanketed by the loving tones of her grandchildren, her ventilator temporarily removed by a nurse in an effort to help her see the faces of her family members perched on an iPad screen above. Less than 24 hours later, Bolton was pronounced dead.

Tragically, Bolton is now one of more than 400,000 Americans to have died from COVID-19, a heartbreaking and once unimaginable milestone crossed in the US on Tuesday. And yet, the situation will still get worse, with another 100,000 deaths expected by mid-February, said incoming head of the Centers for Disease Control Rochelle Walensky on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday.

ROCHELLE WALENSKY: And we still yet haven't seen the ramifications of what happened from the holiday travel from holiday gathering in terms of high rates of hospitalizations and the deaths thereafter. So yes, I think we still have some dark weeks ahead.

- At Providence St. Mary's Medical Center in rural Apple Valley, California, where COVID-19 patients line the hallways due to a lack of ICU beds, Executive Director of Acute Care Mendy Hickey offered a stark emphatic reminder, it's not just the elderly who are dying.

MENDY HICKEY: There are a lot of young people. We had a 28-year-old. We had a 36-year-old. We had a 34-year-old that, you have to walk their family in here to see them for the last time, and they have young kids. It's such an awful thing, and I just think, gosh, if we had just been a little bit more careful, we could have spared that person's life.

- Hickey added that the political climate exacerbates her frustration and desperation in trying to keep people healthy.

MENDY HICKEY: It really gets to me when people say it's political or that it's a fake disease or that, you know, the Democrats this or the Republicans that, because I guarantee that the patients in these beds and the family members that are watching their loved ones die could care less what political party they belong with. I wish people would just take it seriously and believe us.

- While some health officials have expressed concerns about a more contagious variant of the virus spreading across the country, there are glimmers of hope amid the despair, like in California, a surging hot spot since November, but where last week's hospitalization numbers began to decline, prompting California's Health and Human Services Secretary to say, quote, "It's the biggest signal to me that things are beginning to flatten and potentially improve."