by Heather Hollingsworth
The COVID-19 death toll in the US has averaged more than 1,900 for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is largely preying on a different group: 71 million unaffiliated Americans.
The increasingly fatal turn has filled hospitals, complicated the start of the school year, delayed return to offices and discouraged health care workers.
“It’s devastating,” said Dr., a pediatrician in the Kansas City, Missouri, area. Dena Hubbard, who has cared for premature babies by caesarean section in a last-ditch effort to save their mothers, some of whom died. For health workers, the deaths, coupled with misinformation and mistrust about the virus, have been “heartbreaking, soul-crushing”.
Twenty-two people died in one week alone at coxhealth hospitals in the Springfield-Branson area, roughly the same level as the whole of Chicago. There have been more deaths in West Virginia in the first three weeks of September – 340 – than in the previous three months combined. On average, 125 people die in Georgia every day, which is more than California or other more populous states.
“I have to tell you, one man wonders if we’re ever going to see the end of this,” said Colin Folis, a coroner and a funeral home worker in Madison County, Missouri.
In December, the country was stunned when it was witnessing 3,000 deaths a day. But that was when almost no one was vaccinated.
Now, about 64% of the US population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And yet, the average deaths per day has climbed 40% over the past two weeks, from 1,387 to 1,947, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Health experts say most of the hospitalized and dead have not been vaccinated. While some vaccinated people have experienced successful infections, they tend to be mild.
The number of vaccine-eligible Americans who have not yet received a shot has been placed at more than 70 million.
“There’s a very real risk in the hospital or even in obituary pages,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, chief medical officer for the Ohio Department of Health. “Don’t be a statistic on whether there is a simple, safe and effective alternative to going out today and getting vaccinated.”
Many low-vaccination communities also have high rates of conditions such as obesity and diabetes, said Dr. William Moss of Johns Hopkins. And that combination — with the more infectious Delta variant — has proven fatal.
“I think this is a real failure of society and our biggest sin at this stage where we have hospitals overwhelmed, ICUs overwhelmed and hitting this mark in terms of deaths per day,” Moss lamented. did.
New cases of coronavirus per day in the US have dropped since early September and are now running at around 139,000. But deaths typically take longer to subside because victims often hang around for weeks before committing suicide.
In Kansas, 65-year-old cattle rancher Mike Limon thought he had defeated COVID-19 and went back to work for a few days. But the virus had “fried” his lungs and he died last week, said his grandson Cadine Limon, 22, of Wichita.
He said that his grandfather did not get vaccinated for fear of a bad reaction, and he did not get the shot for the same reason, although serious side effects have proved extremely rare.
He described his grandfather as a “man of faith”.
“Sixty-five is still too young,” said the young man. “I know that. It sounds sudden and unexpected, but COVID didn’t surprise God. His death was no surprise to God. The God I serve is greater than that.”
Cases are falling in West Virginia from the high levels of the pandemic, but deaths and hospitalizations are expected to rise for six more weeks, said retired National Guard Major General James Hoyer, who leads the state’s coronavirus task force.
Dr. Greg Martin, who is president of the Critical Care Medicine Society and practices mostly at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, said staff are under stress.
“I think in 2020 everyone thought that we will overcome this. Nobody really thought that we would still be able to see it the same way in 2021,” he said.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon activated the state’s National Guard on Tuesday to provide aid to hospitals dealing with a surge of COVID-19 patients.
In Oklahoma, Hillcrest South Hospital in Tulsa is one of several medical centers across the country to add a temporary morgue. Hospital CEO Bennett Geister said the deaths were at an all-time high, with the number three to four times higher in the non-COVID-19 world.
He said that the employees there are also tired.
“She didn’t sign up to be an ICU nurse, only to pass people on to her,” he said. “She signed up to be an ICU nurse to help people recover and heal people from the brink of death.”