(msnbc) – The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 500,000 on Sunday,according to an NBC News tally — a milestone that underscores the grave threat the virus still poses nationwide even as more Americans get vaccinated.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 2,462,000 people worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The death toll in the U.S. is the highest in the world, even though the country has less than 5 percent of the global population.
NBC News’ tally showed that roughly 500,001 people had died of Covid-19 as of Sunday afternoon. The number of dead rivals the population of Atlanta or Sacramento, California.
More than 28,206,600 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., according to the NBC News tally. California, the most populous state, has been hit particularly hard: 3,527,641 confirmed cases and 49,110 deaths as of Sunday.
The average number of daily new cases has declined in recent days, though. The number fell below 100,000 on Feb. 12 for the first time in months.
However, public health experts and top government officials have said that precautions must remain in place to slow the spread of the virus.
“We are still at about 100,000 cases a day. We are still at around 1,500 to 3,500 deaths per day. The cases are more than two-and-a-half-fold times what we saw over the summer,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place,” Walensky added.