1,000 Americans are dying every week from Covid, CDC says

Nearly four years into the pandemic, hundreds of Americans are still dying every day from Covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The virus is responsible for around 1,000 deaths and 15,000 hospitalisations each week, CDC Director Mandy Cohen said during a media briefing on 2 December.

Death rates briefly dipped below 500 per week in July, the lowest rates since the pandemic began, before steadily increasing to as high as 1,400 in September.

The latest CDC data shows emergency doctor visits and hospitalisations spiked by 10 per cent over one week in mid-November, the first major increase in the virus’s spread for several months.

The CDC is due to released updated data next week which will reveal whether Thanksgiving-related travel contributed to a traditional bump in cases of respiratory illnesses.

The largest accelerations were seen in Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, the CDC said in its latest weekly report, though nearly every region is reporting higher positive test cases and hospitalisations.

Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin are showing the fastest increases, according to data from wastewater sampling and emergency room admissions.

Seasonal respiratory viruses such as influenza and RSV are contributing to increased rates of illness, but cases of RSV appear to have peaked, Dr Cohen said.

Covid remains the primary cause of new respiratory virus hospitalisations and deaths, she added.

Nearly two million Americans spanning states such as Arizona, Arkansas, Oregon, Colorado and Montana are now living in counties deemed to have “high” levels of Covid hospitalisations.

CDC Director Mandy Cohen says Covid remains the primary cause of new respiratory virus hospitalisations and deaths (Getty Images)
CDC Director Mandy Cohen says Covid remains the primary cause of new respiratory virus hospitalisations and deaths (Getty Images)

In these areas, the CDC recommends mask use and avoiding non-essential indoor gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid.

An estimated 10 per cent of new cases are attributed to the highly mutated BA.2.86 strain, dubbed the “Pirola” variant. Health officials are closely watching the spread of the strain, which was first identified in August.

The HV.1 subvariant accounts for around 31 per cent of new cases, while the EG.5 strain makes up 13 per cent, according to the CDC.

Contributing to the recent spike is a low uptake in Covid booster shots. Just 16 per cent of US adults have received a fourth booster shot which was formulated to counter new variants, according to the latest CDC figures.

A new Emerson College-CUNY poll found just under half of Americans planned to get the latest Covid vaccine. That figure fell to 43 per cent in 22 “Heartland” states, the survey found.

“While almost three Heartland residents in five say they are unlikely to get the new version of the COVID-19 vaccine, rejection rates of 74 per cent in Wyoming and 68 per cent in Idaho are particularly startling,” Kenneth H. Rabin, founder of the Council for Quality Health Communication said in a statement.

“These findings should be a wake-up call to health communicators, as we can no longer rely on mandates and must engage people in real conversations to encourage them to vaccinate themselves and their families,” Dr Rabin added.

The CDC no longer tracks national Covid cases, instead relying on analysis of wastewater and emergency room data to determine trends.

A total of 1.16 million Americans have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic, according to official data.