On April 15, 2,752 people in the United States are said to have died of Covid-19, more than any day before or since.
Now daily deaths are rising sharply and are again approaching that terrible number. 2,300 deaths were reported nationwide on Wednesday – the highest number since May.
The pandemic has now claimed more than 264,800 lives in the country. But how the virus kills has changed profoundly. Months of suffering has brought a terrible but valuable education: Doctors and nurses know better how to treat patients who contract the virus and how to prevent serious cases from leading to death, and a far smaller proportion of people who get infected with the virus dies from it than were in the spring.
However, the sheer breadth of the current outbreak means the cost of lives lost daily is still rising.
And unlike during the peak of the spring wave in April, when deaths were concentrated in a handful of states like New York, New Jersey and Louisiana, they are now widely spread across the nation. There is hardly a community that is not affected.
25 states issued weekly death certificates in November, and Thanksgiving gatherings and the start of the holiday shopping season can cause infections to spread even further in the days ahead.
“We run the risk of repeating what happened in April,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a member of the coronavirus task of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr .. Kraft, said the death toll. “I shudder when I imagine what things might be like in two weeks.”
“Once you go over the cliff where you have so many cases that you overwhelm the system, basically by the point where you fall off that cliff, you will see a significant spike in death rates,” he said.
Texas and Illinois reported more than 800 deaths in the past week, while Pennsylvania, Michigan, California and Florida each added more than 400 deaths. In the upper Midwest, where reports of new cases are gradually fading, deaths are still on the rise. Almost 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in Wisconsin have been reported since early November. In North Dakota, where military nurses have been used in hospitals, more than 1 in 1,000 people have died.
Across the country, medical examiners and funeral directors are grappling with a steady rise in tolls. Last night, Dale Clock, who with his wife owns and operates two funeral homes in western Michigan, handled four deaths from Covid-19 in just 12 hours, he said. In the past two weeks, nearly half of the families they serve have lost relatives from the virus.