The Omicron wave may be breaking, but deaths, which can delay cases by as much a few weeks, have outnumbered the Delta wave’s numbers and are still increasing in many parts of the country.
The average daily death rate in 14 states is now higher than it was two week ago. These are Alabama, Alaska and Arkansas, California, Georgia. Hawaii, Idaho. Kentucky. Maine. Oklahoma. Texas. Utah. West Virginia.
The Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa on Nov. 24, and the United States has now confirmed more than 30163,600 new infections and more that 154,750 deaths. (Although the Omicron variant was not first identified in the U.S. until Dec. 1, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it was present at least one week earlier.
Comparatively, the country recorded 10,917,590 new infections during the worst of the Delta surge in America, which was from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31. This period also included 132,616 deaths.
The official case count for Omicron waves was 176 percent greater than that of the Delta wave. (The real case count is much higher, as many people have been using at home tests that are not included in the government statistics. The Omicron wave has seen a death toll of 17 percent more than that of the Delta wave.
On one hand, the gap between the increase in cases and the increase in deaths reflects Omicron’s somewhat lower virulence compared with previous variants, as well as that Omicron is far more likely to cause breakthrough infections in vaccinated people, who are far less likely to die from it than unvaccinated people. Deaths also remain lower than in last winter’s surge, before vaccines were widely available: 233,102 deaths were reported from Nov. 24, 2020, to Feb. 18, 2021, compared with 154,757 from Nov. 24, 2021, to Feb. 18, 2022.
But the painful absolute numbers — more than 150,000 Americans dead who would otherwise have lived — underscore the country’s continuing vulnerability. Even after vaccination, many people who are disabled or chronically ill remain at high risk. A tiny death rate is not enough to prevent a massive epidemic when there are as many infections as 30,000,000.
Nationally, deaths are down by 13 percent compared to two weeks ago. But an average of about 2,300 people — more than the death toll of Hurricane Katrina — are still dying every day.
Sarah CahalanContributed reporting
Source: NY Times