Grim milestone: COVID-19 death toll tops 900,000 in US


(NewsNation Now) — A grim milestone in the pandemic has been reached: The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has reached 900,000 just two months after reaching the 800,000 mark. That’s more than the populations of San Francisco, Indianapolis or Charlotte, North Carolina.

NewsNation reporter Tom Negovan said a turning point may be near, though, when the virus goes from pandemic to endemic.

For now, though, at hospitals around the country, hospitals are running short on staff and ICU beds. “Obviously, at this point, we’re just trying to get over the current surge,” said Dr. Thomas Yadegar, with Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The surge was first fueled by the delta variant, and now the omicron variant has far exceeded the damage done by delta. This is 13 months into a vaccination campaign many believed would end the coronavirus pandemic.

There is hope on the horizon, however, as case counts are dropping in most areas of the country. Dr. Dana Hawkinson, infectious disease physician with the University of Kansas Health System, said, “We know that across the United States and here locally, the hospitalizations are going down.”

Death rates frequently lag behind hospitalizations, but a drop in case counts is definitely a good sign. But death rates are still going up, with roughly 2,400 Americans dying every day, up 30 percent in the last two weeks.

In a late Friday evening press release, President Joe Biden called the death toll, “another tragic milestone — 900,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19.”

The administration has already purchased over 20 million doses of COVID-19 drugs Paxlovid and Malnupiravir. There are plans to scale up production, but those won’t come into effect until spring or summer, leaving doctors at times with the uncomfortable choice of who gets treated. “Out of the whole two years, that’s the most demoralizing part of it. I think as nurses, physicians, the last thing we want to do is to ration care,” Yadegar said.

To put the death toll in perspective: It was at 500,000 on this date one year ago.

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