American COVID-19 death toll surpasses that of Spanish flu pandemic

 Coronavirus crisis volunteer Rhiannon Navin greets local residents arriving to a food distribution center at the WestCop community center on March 18, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York.
Coronavirus crisis volunteer Rhiannon Navin greets local residents arriving to a food distribution center at the WestCop community center on March 18, 2020 in New Rochelle, New York. Photo credit John Moore/Getty Images

It's an unfortunate milestone some never imagined was possible.

The mounting death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday surpassed that of the devastating Spanish flu pandemic at over 675,000 people, according to figures provided by Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Many believe the COVID-19 number to actually be lower than the real total, with others fearing winter may bring a spike in new cases.

One frightening model from the University of Washington suggests an additional 100,000 Americans could die of COVID-19 by Jan. 1, bringing the country's death toll to 775,000.

Fueled by a surge in new infections connected to the delta variant of the coronavirus, deaths in the U.S. are averaging 1,900 per day as of Monday – the highest level in this country since early March. Roughly 64% of the eligible U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with at least 43% of the population globally doing so.

More Americans will get the vaccine in the coming weeks, too.

Pfizer on Monday announced that their COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for kids ages 5 to 11. It has yet to receive approval for children that young by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

COVID-19 could have been far less lethal in the U.S. if more people had gotten vaccinated faster, "and we still have an opportunity to turn it around. We often lose sight of how lucky we are to take these things for granted," Dr. Jeremy Brown, director of emergency care research at the National Institutes of Health, told the Associated Press.

In comparing the two deadly pandemics, experts are quick to point out that the country's population was much, much smaller in 1918 and 1919, signaling deadlier nature of the Spanish flu in a less mobile time.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.