The United States on Feb. 22 crossed the staggering milestone of 500,000 Covid-19 deaths just over a year since the coronavirus pandemic claimed its first known victim in Santa Clara County, California.

Severe Covid-19 infections are beginning to abate in many parts of the United States even as the death toll mounts, signaling an end to the pandemic’s post-holiday surge and prompting some states to ease public health restrictions.

The U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 400,000 on Jan. 19, according to a Reuters tally, as the country hardest hit by the pandemic struggled to meet the demand for vaccines to stem the spread of infection.

The second year of the Covid-19 pandemic may be tougher than the first given how the new coronavirus is spreading, especially in the northern hemisphere as more-infectious variants circulate, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

2020 was a challenging year in more ways than one, and many agencies acknowledged those hardships in holiday cards and video messages. One agency took a slightly different approach: CDM New York created their own eBay page to auction off “The Year 2020” at a starting price of a single penny.

Los Angeles health officials told first responders to stop bringing adult patients who cannot be resuscitated to hospitals, citing a shortage of beds and staff as the latest Covid-19 surge threatened to overwhelm healthcare systems in America’s second-largest city.

The United States recorded more than 15,000 deaths from Covid-19 and over 1.2 million new cases for the week ended Dec. 27, though those numbers may be artificially low due to reporting gaps over the Christmas holiday.

Millions of Covid-19 vaccines were sitting unused in U.S. hospitals and elsewhere a week into the massive inoculation campaign, putting the government’s target for 20 million vaccinations during December in doubt.

Countries across the globe shut their borders to Britain on Dec. 21 due to fears about a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, causing travel chaos and raising the prospect of food shortages days before Britain is set to leave the European Union.

The European Union is on course to approve its first Covid-19 vaccine before Christmas after the EU drug regulator brought forward a deadline for review following the start of immunization campaigns in the United States and Britain.