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This year is the deadliest in US history with overall deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time – as COVID-19 fatalities continue to surge to record highs with one American dying every 33 seconds in the last week alone.

Preliminary numbers from the CDC, based on weekly data, suggests that the US is on track to see 3.2 million total deaths this year. More than 2.9 million have already died from all causes in the US this year, preliminary data shows.

Deaths usually rise by about 20,000 to 50,000 each year, mainly due to the nation’s aging, and growing, population.

While deaths increase most years and some annual rise in fatalities is expected, the 2020 numbers amount to a jump of about 15 percent compared to 2019 when 2.8 million deaths were recorded.

The 2020 death toll could potentially go even higher once all fatalities from this month are counted.

There is a several week lag in deaths.



It would mark the largest single-year percentage leap since 1918, when 116,516 US soldiers died in World War I and 675,000 Americans died in the Spanish Flu pandemic.

Deaths rose 46 percent that year, compared with 1917.

COVID-19 has so far killed more than 319,000 Americans this year and the death toll is only surging.

Deaths from coronavirus have increased this month to record highs with the nationwide seven-day average now at more than 2,600.

The last week has been the deadliest of the pandemic so far with more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths, which equates to one death every 33 seconds.

The month of December is now on track to become the deadliest month of the pandemic.

Just 21 days into the month, December has already recorded 50,996 deaths. It is just shy of the 52,200 deaths recorded during the entire month of April.

In the last week, deaths increased in 22 states. Washington, Delaware, Oregon and Arizona all reported a more than 50 percent increase in fatalities compared to the previous seven days, according to a Reuters analysis of local and state reports.

In terms of deaths per 100,000 people, Iowa, South Dakota and Rhode Island were the hardest hit.

Health officials fear the death toll will only increase after the holiday season.

Hospitals across the country are already at capacity and officials say a surge in new infections due to gatherings and travel could impact that.

The US recorded 190,519 new cases on Monday and a record total of 115,351 people are currently hospitalized with the virus.

Tennessee, California and Rhode Island had the highest per capita new cases in the country last week, according to the Reuters analysis.

While the country has begun to administer two new vaccines, it may be months before the inoculations put a dent in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic came along, there was reason to be hopeful about US death trends this year.

The nation’s overall mortality rate fell a bit in 2019, due to reductions in heart disease and cancer deaths.

Life expectancy inched up – by several weeks – for the second straight year, according to death certificate data released on Tuesday by the CDC.

However, life expectancy for 2020 could now end up dropping as much as three full years.

The CDC counted 2.8 million US deaths last year, or nearly 16,000 more than 2018.

The age-adjusted death rate dropped about 1 percent in 2019, and life expectancy rose by about six weeks to 78.8 years, the CDC reported.

‘It was actually a pretty good year for mortality, as things go,’ Robert Anderson, who oversees CDC death statistics, said.

The COVID-19 epidemic has been a big driver of deaths this year, both directly and indirectly.

The virus has become the third leading cause of death in the US, behind only heart disease and cancer.

For certain periods this year, COVID-19 was the number one killer, but some other types of deaths also have increased.

A burst of pneumonia cases early this year may have been COVID-19 deaths that simply weren’t recognized as such early in the epidemic.

There also have been an unexpected number of deaths from certain types of heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes and dementia, according to Anderson. Many of those, too, may be related to COVID.

Anderson said the virus could have weakened patients already struggling with those conditions, or could have diminished the care they were getting.

Early in the epidemic, some were optimistic that car crash deaths would drop as people stopped commuting or driving to social events. Data on that is not yet in, but anecdotal reports suggest there was no such decline.

Suicide deaths dropped in 2019 compared with 2018, but early information suggests they have not continued to drop this year, Anderson and others said.

Drug overdose deaths, meanwhile, got much worse. Before the coronavirus even arrived, the US was in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history.

Data for all of 2020 is not yet available but last week the CDC reported more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in May, making it the highest number ever recorded in a one-year period.

Experts think the pandemic’s disruption to in-person treatment and recovery services may have been a factor.

People also are more likely to be taking drugs alone – without the benefit of a friend or family member who can call 911 or administer overdose-reversing medication.

But perhaps a bigger factor are the drugs themselves: COVID-19 caused supply problems for dealers, so they are increasingly mixing cheap and deadly fentanyl into heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, experts said.

‘I don’t suspect there are a bunch of new people who suddenly started using drugs because of COVID. If anything, I think the supply of people who are already using drugs is more contaminated,’ said Shannon Monnat, a Syracuse University researcher who studies drug overdose trends.

Dr Fauci gave an enthusiastic thumbs up after getting his Moderna vaccine on Tuesday along with HHS Secretary Alex Azar at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland and eight people who work there.

Before getting his vaccine, Fauci said it was an ‘honor’ and that the vaccine was a ‘symbol’ of hope for the country and the world. Azar told the audience that all Americans could trust the vaccine and that it was a ‘medical miracle’.

Earlier in the day however, Fauci warned that it may take until July next year for most of the American public to be inoculated.

He says that the vaccine won’t start being rolled out to the public at the end of March – later than what Azar has previously said – and that it could take four months after that for most of the public to receive shots in the arm.

The US has agreed to buy 200million doses from Moderna and 100million from Pfizer but there are more than 330million in the country and everyone needs at least two shots.

Pfizer has already said it will not be able to restock the US until June or July because other countries rushed ahead of them to place orders, despite it being an American company.

Fauci and Azar were vaccinated on Tuesday as a new mutant strain of COVID wreaked havoc on the UK and Europe and daily COVID deaths and cases across the US continued to rise.

During an appearance on Good Morning America, he sought to clarify the muddy timeline of exactly when Americans will get the shot after Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary General said it could take until the end of summer.

Fauci said the vaccines will start going out to the public in the spring, at the end of March. But he said it could take up to four months after that point for people to have actually received it in any meaningful number.

‘You’re going to get different versions from different people. The reason is the uncertainty about the efficiency of how you get it implemented.

‘In other words, when you say we’ve reached the point that it’s open season, anybody can get the vaccine, not just the people in the priority areas that we’re doing… we likely will be able to start vaccinating people in the broader category somewhere around the end of March, beginning of April.

‘How long it takes to get everyone who needs to be vaccinated vaccinated it really varies.

‘It depends on the efficiency of the process.

‘What I’ve been saying, I think it’s correct but it could be a variant of a month or two, in earnest, I think we’ll start vaccinating the general public… it may take two, three or four months or more before you get everyone vaccinated. That’s the difference.

‘We’re really all saying the same thing – we’ll start at a certain time, it may take two, three or four months before everyone gets vaccinated who needs to be.

‘By the time we get into the summer, I hope we’ll almost be at that point,’ he said.

How the vaccine is distributed will be down to the states.

Generally, they are following the CDC’s guidelines on who gets it first, with healthcare workers being among the first along with nursing home staff and residents.

Then, the most vulnerable members of the public will get it, followed by the public at large.

The doses have been divided up based on population size and are currently being distributed.

It is then up to each state to mobilize the vaccination program in hospitals or healthcare sites.


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