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0.2% of Americans have died from COVID-19, data shows

A look at the latest data shows approximately 1 in 500 Americans -- about 0.2% of the U.S. population -- have died due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

A comparison of the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University and 2020 Census data shows approximately 1-in-500 Americans -- about 0.2% of the U.S. population -- have died due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. But there remain a couple of unknowns in tabulating the results.

The Census Bureau said as of April 1, 2020, there were 331.4 million people in the U.S. As of Wednesday evening, JHU reported 666,579 deaths from COVID-19.

That comes out to roughly one in every 503 Americans having died due to coronavirus exposure.

Here's what's unclear in the data.

First, how many unreported COVID deaths have there been? The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which is often cited by federal health officials, estimated in May that there were more than 900,000 U.S. deaths directly caused by the coronavirus. Scientists have suggested the worldwide undercount could be in the millions. 

The other factor is how many births there have been since the Census was compiled. It's been approximately 16 months since the final tally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in May that it provisionally calculated 3.6 million U.S. births in 2020. But it's unknown how many of those births could have already been part of the Census data. It also does not include births so far in 2021.

Either way, it's likely the number remains somewhere in the 1-in-500 vicinity.

Multiple states have reported strained health care systems due to the highly infectious delta variant. Health experts and local, state and federal officials have been urging the public to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines that are either fully approved or under an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.

In Alaska, the state's largest hospital announced it has entered crisis protocol and will begin rationing care due to the flood of COVID-19 cases.

Idaho’s public health officials say crisis standards of care are imminent for the state’s most populated region as hospitals continue to be overrun with unvaccinated coronavirus patients. Neighboring Washington state says it is facing its own COVID-19 crisis and has little capacity to help Idaho.

The CDC said Wednesday 63.3% of those eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine and 54.1% of the total population are now inoculated.

The battle also continues over mask mandates, particularly in schools. Parents, teachers, administrators and governors are landing on one side of the issue or the other, depending on which district or state you look at.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.