US coronavirus deaths top 900,000, in part due to Omicron surge

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FILE PHOTOS: The mother of a patient with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stands at the patient’s bedside in the intensive care unit (ICU) at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley California, States United States, February 1, 2022. REUTERS / Shannon Stapleton

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Feb 4 (Reuters) – The coronavirus pandemic hit another grim milestone in the United States on Friday, with the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths in the country surpassing 900,000, even as the daily number of lives lost has started to stabilize, according to data collected by Reuters.

The latest tally marks an increase of more than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States since Dec. 12, coinciding with a spike in infections and hospitalizations caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus.

Preliminary evidence has shown that Omicron, although much more infectious, generally causes less severe disease than earlier versions of the virus, such as Delta. But the sheer volume of Omicron cases has fueled a surge in hospitalizations that has pushed many US healthcare systems to their limits in recent weeks.

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Experts said the bulk of Omicron patients requiring hospitalization were unvaccinated and people with other underlying chronic health conditions.

The data also suggests that Omicron may have hit the United States harder than other countries with younger overall populations, such as in Africa.

On Friday, according to Reuters’ tally of state-reported data, the total number of American lives lost to COVID-19 since the first US cases were detected in early 2020 reached at least 904,067, more than the entire population of the South. Dakota.

The tally is the highest number of COVID-19 deaths reported by any country, followed by Russia, Brazil and India with more than 1.8 million deaths combined. In terms of coronavirus deaths per capita, the United States ranks 20th, well below the top two – Peru and Russia.

Still, the U.S. COVID-19 death rate appears to be slowing as the Omicron surge wanes, according to Reuters figures. The seven-day average has dropped for two consecutive days to 2,592, from a peak average of 2,674 in the current wave of infections. For comparison, the peak during the Delta wave in January 2021 averaged 3,300 deaths per day.

Some public health officials have said that as the Omicron outbreak recedes and hospitalizations decline, the pandemic could enter a new phase in the United States and elsewhere.

In the state of Iowa, for example, the governor announced on Friday that a public health disaster proclamation and accompanying special safety measures would expire on February 15.

“The flu and other infectious diseases are part of our daily lives, and the coronavirus can be managed the same way,” Governor Kim Reynolds tweeted.

Nationwide, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are now averaging 354,000 a day, half of what was reported less than two weeks ago and a drop from the near peak. of 806,000 infections per day on January 15. Many infections, however, go unaccounted for because they are picked up by home testing kits and not reported to public health authorities, officials say.

Over the past seven days, the states reporting the most new cases per capita were Alaska, Kentucky, Washington, South Carolina and North Dakota.

Current COVID hospitalizations in the United States stood at 117,000, down from a peak of nearly 153,000 on Jan. 20.

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Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru, Susan Heavey in Washington and Lisa Shumaker in Chicago; edited by Jane Wardell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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