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By the numbers: Comparing the COVID-19 death toll to the 1918 flu, H1N1 and more

How does the death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. compare to other events in history? We took a look at the numbers.

DENVER — It has been almost a year since the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. changed life as we know it. 

During that time, more than 410,000 Americans have died of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 5,500 people in Colorado have died of COVID-19, and as of this writing, 22,655 people in the state have been hospitalized. 

The numbers are staggering, especially considering that a year ago, the virus had not yet been detected in Colorado, and most of the cases worldwide were in China. 

9NEWS Anchor Gary Shapiro compared the toll of COVID-19 to other pandemics in U.S. history. For instance, the loss of more than 400,000 Americans is staggering, but it is less than the 1918 flu pandemic. 

Credit: 9NEWS

The toll of COVID-19 is far higher than the 1968 flu pandemic. 

Credit: 9NEWS

It also eclipses the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 

Credit: 9NEWS

The toll of COVID-19, as of this writing, is less than the yearly deaths associated with heart disease and cancer. 

Credit: 9NEWS

The loss of life is more than World War II, the Vietnam War and Sept. 11, 2001. 

Credit: 9NEWS
Credit: 9NEWS
Credit: 9NEWS

9NEWS Psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel said it's hard to wrap your head around numbers this big. 

"You hear that one of your friends is suffering, and that makes you feel really sad," he said. "You hear that two of your friends are suffering, and our brains aren't designed to feel twice as bad."

Wachtel said part of the numbness to COVID-19 deaths comes from the fact that they're happening out of sight, unlike on days like 9/11, when we watched the towers fall live on television. 

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"The death toll from COVID is about 40 times the size of the town I grew up in," Wachtel said. "And that sounds huge, but at the same time, it kind of means nothing to me because that number is so big." 

The number could continue to rise; President Joe Biden has said the COVID-19 death toll could surpass 600,000 by the time the U.S. reaches herd immunity. 

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