A patient lies on a stretcher in a hallway near other patients in the congested emergency room at Providence St. Mary Medical Center amid an increase in COVID-19 patients in Southern California on January 5, 2021 in Apple Valley, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images
Nearly 3,000 people die on average from Covid-19 every day in the US as high-level health officials warn that the worst is yet to come.
The US reported more than 3,400 Covid deaths on Friday, bringing the 7-day average daily neoplasia to a record high of 2,983, a 19% increase from a week ago. This comes from a CNBC analysis of the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
New cases rise to new highs every day. Over the past week, the country has reported an average of more than 247,200 new cases per day, according to Hopkins, a 27% increase from the previous week. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the outbreak will get worse before it gets better, reiterating the comments made by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, earlier this week.
“We’ll continue to see mortality in the 2,500 to 5,000 per day range,” Redfield told McClatchy in an interview. “This will continue to get worse through January and probably February before we really go around the corner.”
Cases are already skyrocketing almost everywhere as the country saw a predicted surge in the virus last month caused by interstate travel and family gatherings on vacation. According to Hopkins data, the average daily new cases in 47 states increased by at least 5%. Redfield warned Friday that the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump on Wednesday will worsen the outbreak.
“I think you must expect this to be another surge event. They had largely exposed people who were all throughout the Capitol,” he said. “Then these people are all riding in cars, trains and planes that are going home all over the country. So I think this is an event that is likely to lead to a major proliferation event.”
Donald Trump supporters gathered to protest Joe Biden’s certification as a presidential winner in the state capital, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Michael Siluk | Universal Images Group | Getty Images
Redfield, who was named head of the country’s premier health agency by Trump in 2018, is led by Dr. Rochelle Walensky replaced under President-elect Joe Biden.
As the outbreak grows worse by the day, officials are seeking a swift distribution of life-saving doses of vaccine. The initial rollout was slower than expected but is showing signs of increasing speed. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said sales efforts have been slow due in part to the holidays, but the pace should accelerate this month.
The US fired nearly 800,000 shots in 24 hours on Friday, up from around 600,000 the previous day and most in a one-day period, according to the agency. According to the data, more than 22.1 million doses were given, but only 6.7 million were given.
Amid criticism of a slow initial rollout, HHS officials are now urging states to move beyond the first level of prioritization. Healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities should receive the vaccine first, according to the CDC. But HHS Secretary Alex Azar said earlier this week that states should open up to older and more vulnerable Americans if that would accelerate the pace of rollout. The Commissioner responsible for food and pharmaceuticals administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn repeated his comments on Friday.
In addition to the pressure to vaccinate quickly, there is the arrival of a new strain of the virus. The new variant, known as B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, has now been found in at least seven states. While it doesn’t seem to make people more sick, CDC officials believe it can spread more easily. That could worsen the outbreak and quickly overwhelm hospitals, CDC officials warned last week.
However, states and hospitals face significant hurdles in administering the vaccine doses. Government funding for vaccine distribution was only approved late last month, and much of it has yet to go to facilities that desperately need money, such as increasing the workforce and keeping digital records.