Covid-19 deaths in the US Top 2,100 a day, the highest in almost a year
Covid-19 deaths in the US Top 2,100 a day, the highest in almost a year

Covid-19 deaths in the US Top 2,100 a day, the highest in almost a year

Covid-19 deaths in the US have reached their highest level since the beginning of last year, overshadowing daily averages from the recent Delta-driven rise after the recent Omicron variant spread wildly through the country and caused record number of cases.

The seven-day average of recently reported Covid-19 deaths reached 2,191 a day on Monday, an increase of about 1,000 from the daily death toll two months ago before Omicron was first discovered, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. While new evidence shows that Omicron is less likely to kill the people it infects because the variant spread at unsurpassed speed the avalanche of cases can overwhelm all mitigating factors, epidemiologists say.

“You may have a disease that is less fatal to one person than another, such as Omicron, but if it is more contagious and reaches more people, then you are more likely to have many deaths, “said Robert Anderson, chief. of the Mortality Statistics Department at the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The United States experienced the highest number of deaths in the pandemic about a year ago before vaccines were widely available when the daily average reached 3,400. Recently, the Delta variant triggered a peak just over 2,100 at the end of September. Omicron has since sidelined the Delta muscle and now accounts for almost all known Covid-19 cases, the CDC has estimated. The seven-day death average last peaked at its current level in February 2021, when the United States recovered from last winter’s rise.

Hospitals in the United States are struggling to staff medical facilities as a wave of Covid-19 cases puts healthcare professionals on the sidelines. Some hospital administrators are forced to turn to the last resort to ensure the quality of treatment. Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP / Getty Images

Covid-19 deaths, although still largely composed of older Americans, were younger when the Delta variant tore through the southern states this summer and then older again as it moved north, recent death certificate data show. It will take more time for this data to reflect demographic trends during the Omicron rise, said Mr. Anderson.

The new variant’s breathtaking speed and its arrival during the winter holidays, when states slowed down their data reporting, complicated the efforts to closely track the impact and then have changes in the way the United States detects and counts infections.

An increase in home testing, for example, is largely not counted in government case reports, said Beth Blauer, data manager for the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which compiles pandemic data. This means that the huge number of reported Omicron cases – the seven-day average peaked at 800,000 this month, more than tripling the previous record from a year ago – still likely undercuts the true number by a huge margin, Blauer said.

“I do not think we have any understanding of the amount of cases,” she said. The case average, which has been lower recently but rose early this week, was around 731,600 on Monday.


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The case-tracking problem makes it difficult to determine the mortality from Omicron compared to previous variants, although there is growing evidence that Omicron is less virulent than its predecessors.

A new study released by the CDC on Tuesday measured a maximum of nine deaths per year. 1,000 cases during the Omicron rise, and weighed deaths against cases from three weeks earlier. During last winter’s rise, that number peaked at 16 deaths in 1,000 cases, and during the Delta rise, it reached 13 out of 1,000, the study said.

There is several possible limitations in the analysisincluding changes in testing and case tracking, a period in which Delta and Omicron overlapped, and the fact that vaccine coverage was not taken into account, the study said.

“We are still losing too many people a day to it being acceptable in any way,” said Jodie Guest, vice president of the epidemiology department at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

CDC data tracking of death rates by vaccination status has not yet caught up with the Omicron increase. Although Omicron triggers many groundbreaking cases in the inoculated, data have shown that the rate of infection remains higher among the unvaccinated and that they have no shots are significantly more likely to be hospitalized.

In a positive sign, Covid-19 related the admissions are going down shortly after reaching the highest recorded levels. Federal data also indicate that Covid-19 deaths in hospitals have begun to decline from a recent Omicron peak. The CDC says about seven out of every 10 Covid-19 deaths occur in hospitals or other inpatient settings.

Some parts of the country, including major coastal states like New York and California, are also in recovery mode. A Wall Street Journal analysis shows that 20 states representing 55% of the population have an average of at least 20% lower than the recent peaks.

While Omicron is disappearing in populated coastal areas, it has not yet peaked in less vaccinated regions that could see a higher death rate, said Mr. Anderson. Deaths could rise further as they continue to track the latest rise in cases, epidemiologists said.

“We know death is a lagging indicator,” said Andrew Noymer, an infectious disease epidemiologist and demographer at the University of California, Irvine. “I would like to give it a few more weeks before I take any victory rounds, claiming we’ve been lucky on the death side.”

Write to Jon Kamp at [email protected]

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