Story at a glance
- A list of the top 10 deadliest days in American History went viral after several days of record-breaking deaths due to COVID-19.
- While the list leaves out some events, several recent days have set new records of American deaths.
- As a whole, the coronavirus pandemic is among the deadliest events in United States history.
EDITOR’S NOTE: On the day of publication, 3,054 Americans died of COVID-19, exceeding the death toll of 9/11 and making it one of the deadliest days in the country’s history.
A viral list of "The Deadliest Days In American History” by Taegan Goddard, founder of Political Wire, may have left some deadly events off — but the sentiment rang true: 2020 has been a historically deadly year.
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The list (below) did not include the death toll of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which was recently estimated to be around 3,000 (higher than previously thought), overseas deaths or several other Civil War battles that were recently recalculated. It also leaves out the massacres of Native Americans during colonization and settlement.
- Galveston Hurricane – 8,000
- Battle of Antietam – 3,675
- Battle of Gettysburg – 3,155
- 9/11 – 2,977
- Last Thursday – 2,879
- Last Wednesday – 2,804
- Last Tuesday – 2,607
- Last Friday – 2,597
- Pearl Harbor – 2,403
Still, the number of COVID-19 deaths on each of four consecutive days last week exceeded the number of deaths on the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor and neared the death toll of the 9/11 attacks. As of midday on Dec. 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 285,351 total deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States, more than the number of Americans killed in World War I, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined.
The 1918 influenza pandemic remains the deadliest event in American history with now-estimated 675,000 deaths, followed by the Civil War with an estimated 620,000 deaths and World War II at more than 400,000 American deaths. But the still-growing coronavirus death toll continues to rise to new levels of tragedy.
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