COVID-19 deaths will eclipse 700,000 in the US as delta variant rages

This is a milestone that by all accounts does not have to happen anytime soon.

The number of deaths in the U.S. from COVID -19 spanned 700,000 late Friday – a number larger than Boston’s population. The last 100,000 deaths occurred at a time when vaccines – which are extremely preventative of death, hospitalization and serious illness – are available to any American over the age of 12.

The milestone was deeply frustrating to doctors, public health officials and the American public, who watched a pandemic calm down earlier in the darkening summer. Tens of millions of Americans refused to be vaccinated, allowing the highly contagious delta variant to tear the country apart and send 600,000 to 700,000 deaths in 3 1/2 months.

Florida suffered up to the most deaths of any state during that time, with the virus killing approximately 17,000 residents since mid-June. Second is Texas with 13,000 deaths. The two states account for 15% of the nation’s population, but more than 30% of the nation’s deaths since the country crossed the 600,000 threshold.

Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who publicly studied the reported state data, said it’s safe to say that at least 70,000 of the last 100,000 died among those not vaccinated. And of the vaccinated people who died with successful infections, most caught the virus from an unvaccinated person, he said.

“If we had been more effective with our vaccinations, I think it’s fair to say, we could have avoided 90% of those deaths,” since mid -June, Dowdy said.

“It’s not just a number on a screen,” Dowdy said. “Thousands of sad stories of people whose families have lost someone who means the world to them.”

Danny Baker is one of them.

The 28-year-old seed hauler from Riley, Kansas, contracted to COVID-19 in the summer, spent more than a month in the hospital and died Sept. 14. He left a wife and a 7-month-old. that baby girl.

“This thing took an old man, a 28-year-old young man, 6’2 ″, 300-thousand men, and he came down like nothing,” said his father, JD Baker, 56-years aged, of Milford, Kansas. “And so if young people think they’re … still protected because of their youth and their strength, it’s no longer there.”

In the early days of the pandemic, Danny Baker, who was a high school shooter and fond of hunting and fishing, insisted he was the first in line for a vaccine, his mother recalled.

But just as vaccinations are opening up in its age group, the U.S. has recommended a pause in Johnson and Johnson vaccine use to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. The news scared her, as information circulated online that the vaccine could harm fertility, even though medical experts said there was there is no biological reason the shots will affect fertility.

Her husband was also breastfeeding, so they decided to wait. Health experts now say that breastfeeding mothers should get the vaccine for their own protection and it can even provide protection for their babies through antibodies passed on to breastmilk.

“There’s a lot of miscommunication about the vaccine,” said his wife, 27 -year -old Aubrea Baker, a labor and delivery nurse, who added that her husband’s death has inspired a Facebook page and at least 100 people who have been vaccinated. “Not that we can’t get it. We haven’t got it yet.”

When deaths exceeded 600,000 in mid-June, vaccinations were pushing up caseloads, removing restrictions and people expecting life to return to normal in the summer. Deaths per day in the U.S. plunged to an average of nearly 340, from a high of more than 3,000 in mid -January. Shortly thereafter, health officials declared it a pandemic of not formed.

But as the delta variant swept the country, caseloads and deaths erupted – especially among the underdeveloped and younger, with hospitals across the country reporting sharp increases in admissions and deaths of people under 65. They also reported achieved infections and deaths, albeit at far lower rates, prompting efforts to provide booster shots to vulnerable Americans.

Today, daily deaths average about 1,900 a day. Cases began to fall from their height in September but there are fears that the situation could worsen in the winter months when colder weather enters people inside.

Nearly 65% ​​of Americans have at least one dose of the vaccine, while nearly 56% are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But millions are either in denial or still on the fence because of fear, misinformation and political beliefs. Health care workers reported being at risk of patients and community members who do not believe COVID-19 is true.

The first known deaths from the virus in the US were in early February 2020. It took four months to reach the first 100,000 deaths. During the most deadly phase of the disaster, in the winter of 2020-21, it took more than a month to land from 300,000 to 400,000 deaths.

The U.S. reached 500,000 deaths in mid -February, when the country was still in the middle of winter and vaccines were only available to a limited number of people. The death toll stood at nearly 570,000 in April when every American adult became eligible for the shots.

“I remember when we broke that 100,000-mark death toll, people just shook their heads and said‘ Oh, my god, ’” Drs. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Then we said, ‘Are we going to 200,000?’ Then we continued to look at 100,000-mark deaths, ”and finally surpassed the estimated 675,000 deaths of Americans from 1918-19 flu pandemic.

“And we’re not done yet,” Benjamin said.

Deaths during the delta surge have been relentless in hotspots in the South. Nearly 79 people per 100,000 people in Florida have died of COVID since mid -June, the highest rate in the nation.

Amanda Alexander, a COVID-19 ICU nurse at Georgia’s Augusta University Medical Center, said Thursday that she will have a patient die in each of her past three transfers.

“I watched a 20-year-old die. I watched about 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds,” with no precondition that could put them at greater risk, he said. “Ninety-nine percent of our patients are not vaccinated. And it’s just so frowning because the facts don’t lie and we see it every day. “

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Webber reports from Fenton, Michigan, and Hollingsworth from Mission, Kansas. Associated Press Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson and data journalist Justin Myers contributed to this story.

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