A long-expected upturn in US coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the south and west, where cases have been surging calamitously, according to data on the pandemic. The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling in May and June and even remained down as states like Florida
A long-expected upturn in US coronavirus deaths has begun, driven by fatalities in states in the south and west, where cases have been surging calamitously, according to data on the pandemic.
The number of deaths per day from the virus had been falling in May and June and even remained down as states like Florida and Texas saw explosions in cases and hospitalizations and reported daily US infections broke records several times in recent days, the Associated Press reports.
Scientists warned it wouldn’t last. A coronavirus death, when it occurs, typically comes several weeks after a person is first infected. And experts predicted states that saw increases in cases and hospitalizations would, at some point, see deaths rise too.
Now that’s happening. “It’s consistently picking up. And it’s picking up at the time you’d expect it to,” said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious diseases researcher.
According to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the seven-day rolling average for daily reported deaths in the US has increased from 578 two weeks ago to 664 on July 10, though still well below the heights hit in April.
Daily reported deaths increased in 27 states over that time period, but the majority of those states are averaging under 15 new deaths per day. A smaller group of states has been driving the nationwide increase in deaths.
California is averaging 91 reported deaths per day while Texas is close behind with 66, but Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Jersey and South Carolina also saw sizable rises.
New Jersey’s recent jump is thought to be partially attributable to its less frequent reporting of probable deaths.
The impact has already been felt by families who lost kin and by the health care workers who tried to save them.
Rublas Ruiz, a Miami intensive care unit nurse, recently broke down in tears during a birthday dinner with his wife and daughter. He said he was overcome by the number of patients who have died in his care.
“I counted like 10 patients in less than four days in our ICU and then I stopped doing that because there were so many,” said the 41-year-old nurse at Kendall Regional Medical Center who lost another patient Monday.
The virus has killed more than 134,000 people in the US and more than a half-million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, one of the most reliable trackers of the pandemic, though the true numbers are believed to be higher because a lack of official reporting of deaths or misclassification of cause of death by authorities.