The US is starting to see a rising death toll from its latest spate of COVID-19 cases, and it is poised to get worse in the weeks to come.
The country added 2,238 new deaths on Friday, the highest in almost five months, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
The seven-day average for fatalities in the US was 1,052 on Thursday, close to the highest since mid-August, COVID Tracking Project data showed.
A consensus of models tracked by the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Reich Lab showed that the daily pace is poised to increase by about 200 by early next month.
The surge in infections has spread to 49 states, with some of the most alarming momentum in places such as New York, where seven-day average cases are up 72 percent in the past week, the third-most in the nation, COVID Tracking data showed.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that schools might end in-person classes as soon as tomorrow.
Nationwide, daily COVID-19 infections broke a new record on Friday after adding more than 190,000 cases.
The rising death tolls are still in large part driven by the Midwest and some hot spots that were starting to worsen in September and early last month, including El Paso, Texas.
Without those, the national fatalities trend is still just barely beginning to steepen, suggesting that the US has not really seen the outcomes of the broader upswing.
COVID-19 deaths often trail infections by weeks, and it can take even longer for the deaths to be disclosed, meaning the fatalities trend line often starts rising well after cases.
It can also remain elevated well after a surge has subsided.
In Florida, where cases peaked in mid-July, per capita COVID-19 death figures remained among the highest in the nation through early last month. University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi has traced those Florida death reports to fatalities that often occurred weeks and months earlier.
The Midwest spike started significantly earlier than every other region. It is also the most dramatic.
The US reported an additional 147,556 cases on Thursday, the second-highest ever after Wednesday’s tally, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people have died from COVID-19, with nearly one in five deaths occurring in the US, where 244,364 people have died, Johns Hopkins data showed.
Experts say that official data is likely to capture only a fraction of the number of total infections and fatalities.
Brazil, the second-most affected country, reported 164,737 deaths, followed by India (129,188), Mexico (97,624) and the UK (51,396).
The world celebrated news this week about major advances in the hunt for vaccines against COVID-19, but WHO Immunization Department director Kate O’Brien warned that disinformation and public distrust could render them useless against the pandemic.
“We are not going to be successful as a world in controlling the pandemic with the use of vaccines as one of the tools unless people are willing to get vaccinated,” O’Brien said.
Additional reporting by AFP
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