New York, Sept. 22 (BUS): The US COVID-19 death rate has climbed to an average of more than 1,900 per day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is largely encroaching on a distinct group: the 71 million Americans who are not immune.
The deadly shift filled hospitals, held the school year off, delayed returns to offices, and demoralized health care workers, the Associated Press reports.
It’s devastating,” said Dr. Dina Hubbard, a pediatrician in the Kansas City, Missouri, area who nursed premature babies by cesarean section in a last-ditch effort to save their mothers, some of whom died. For health workers, the deaths, combined with misinformation and disbelief about the virus, have been “heart-breaking and soul-shattering”.
Twenty-two people died in just one week at Cox Health Hospitals in the Springfield-Branson area, a level roughly comparable to that of Chicago. West Virginia had more deaths in the first three weeks of September – 340 – than in the previous three months combined. Georgia averages 125 people dead per day, more than California or other more populous states.
“I have to tell you, the guy should be wondering if we’re ever going to see the end of it,” said Colin Follis, a Madison County, Missouri, coroner who works at a funeral home.
It stunned the nation again in December when it was seeing 3,000 deaths a day. But that was when almost no one was vaccinated.
Now, nearly 64% of the US population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, the average daily death rate has risen by 40% over the past two weeks, from 1,387 to 1947, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health experts say the vast majority of deceased and hospitalized have not been vaccinated. While some vaccinated people have experienced a superinfection, these tend to be mild.
The number of Americans eligible for vaccination who have not yet received a shot has been put at more than 70 million.
“There is a very real risk that you will end up in the hospital or even in the pages of an obituary,” Dr. Bruce Vanderhof, chief medical officer of the Ohio Department of Health, told those who did not receive the vaccination. “You don’t become a statistician when there is a simple, safe, and effective alternative to going out today and vaccinating.”
Dr. William Moss of Johns Hopkins said many low-vaccinated communities also have high rates of conditions such as obesity and diabetes. This combination—along with the more contagious delta variant—has proven fatal.
“I think this is a real failure of society and our gravest sin to be at this point where we have hospitals overwhelmed, intensive care units overwhelmed and up to this mark in terms of daily deaths,” Moss said.
New coronavirus cases have fallen daily in the United States since the beginning of September and now stand at about 139,000. But deaths usually take longer to fall because victims often last for weeks before they succumb.
In Kansas, 65-year-old Mike Lemon thought he had beaten COVID-19 and was back at work for a few days. His grandson Caden Lemon, 22, of Wichita, said the virus had “fried” his lungs and died last week.
He said that his grandfather was not vaccinated for fear of a bad reaction, and he also did not get the vaccine for the same reason, although serious side effects have proven to be extremely rare.
He described his grandfather as a “man of faith”.
“Sixty-five is still small,” said the young man. “And I know it. It sounds surprising and unexpected, but COVID did not surprise God. His death was no surprise to God. The God I serve is greater than that.”
Retired National Guard Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, who leads the state’s coronavirus task force, said cases in West Virginia are falling from epidemic heights, but deaths and hospitalizations are expected to continue to increase for up to six more weeks.
Dr. Greg Martin, president of the Society for Critical Care Medicine and who practices mostly at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, said the staff is rocking under the pressure.
“I think everyone in 2020 thought we would get through this. Nobody really thought we would still see this the same way in 2021.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon activated the state’s National Guard on Tuesday to provide assistance to hospitals dealing with an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients.
In Oklahoma, Hillcrest Hospital South in Tulsa is among several medical centers across the country to add temporary morgues. Deaths are at an all-time high there, said Bennett Jester, the hospital’s chief executive, at three to four times the number he would see in a non-COVID-19 world.
He said the staff there are also worn out.
He said, “They didn’t register to be ICU nurses just until people passed away from them.” “They signed up to be ICU nurses to take people to recover and heal people from the brink of death.”