On 4-year anniversary of the WHO declaring COVID a pandemic, a look at the virus by the numbers

At least 1.18 million people have died from COVID in the U.S.

March 11, 2024, 6:04 AM

Monday marks the 4-year anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the global COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic.

Over that period, millions of Americans have been hospitalized and have died from the virus.

Additionally, a high percentage of adults have developed long COVID while the infections of thousands of children have led to an inflammatory condition.

Here's a look at the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. by the numbers:


As of the week ending March 2, there were 15,141 weekly new hospital admissions for COVID-19. according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While this is on par with the number of weekly hospitalizations at the beginning of April 2024, this is much lower than the peak of 150,650 weekly hospitalizations recorded the week of Jan. 22, 2022, during the omicron wave.

Over the course of the pandemic, more than 6 million Americans have been hospitalized, CDC data shows.

PHOTO: COVID-19 By the numbers in the U.S.
COVID-19 By the numbers in the U.S.
ABC News Photo Illustration, CDC

The CDC has said fewer people are hospitalized due to the availability of vaccines and boosters as well as the availability of antirural drugs that decrease the risk of severe illness for those at-high risk, including molnupiravir and Paxlovid.


Since the pandemic began, more than 1.18 million Americans have died from COVID-19, according to CDC data. The U.S. crossed the 1 million mark on May 12, 2022.

During the week of March 2, there were 576 weekly deaths, which is the lowest number recorded since summer 2023 and several times lower than the peak of 25,974 weekly deaths recorded the week ending Jan. 9, 2021.

Experts have previously said the U.S. is in a much better place than it was at the start of the pandemic but some reasons hundreds of people may be dying every week include not enough people accessing treatments or getting vaccinated as well as waning immunity.


In early fall, the federal government recommended an updated vaccine that is targeted against variants that are currently circulating, which are related to XBB, an offshoot of the omicron variant.

There are formulations made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for those aged 6 months and older, and a formulation made by Novavax for those aged 12 and older.

However, as of Friday, just 22.6% of adults aged 18 and older and 13.5% of children under age 18 have received the vaccine, according to CDC data.

This is lower than the nearly half of adults who said they planned to get the vaccine in a poll conducted by the KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor in September.

In some good news, 42.4% of adults aged 65 and older, which is the group at highest risk of severe illness and death, have gotten vaccinated.

MIS-C cases

As of Feb. 26, 9,655 children in the U.S. have developed MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, according to CDC data.

MIS-C is an inflammatory condition that is caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

PHOTO: A doctor draws the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccine  at a pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn., Sept. 8, 2022.
A doctor draws the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccine at a pharmacy in Schwenksville, Penn., Sept. 8, 2022.
Hannah Beier/Reuters, FILE

It typically occurs between two to six weeks after infection and presents a combination of symptoms, including inflammation of various parts of the body along with gastrointestinal symptoms, rash and fever.

Since the start of the new year, just two cases of MIS-C have been reported, much lower than the peak in winter 2021 when more than 200 cases were being reported every week.

Some children with MIS-C end up hospitalized and, if they are sick enough, can spend time in intensive care units. Additionally, at least 79 children have died of MIS-C so far.


Millions of Americans say they've had long COVID, and many are still battling it, federal data shows.

Long COVID is a condition that occurs when patients still have symptoms at least four weeks after they have cleared the infection. In some cases, symptoms can be experienced for months or years. The WHO first posted a clinical case definition of the condition in October 2021.

According to the most recent federal Household Pulse Survey, between Jan. 9, 2024 and Feb. 5, 2024, 6.8% of U.S. adults currently have long COVID and 17.6% have had long COVID.

Using 2020 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, this means 17.5 million adults currently have long COVID and 45.4 million people have ever had long COVID.

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