US COVID Numbers Backtrack to a Troubling Benchmark

New infections, hospitalizations surge in numbers not seen since January, before vaccine push
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2021 9:06 AM CDT
America and COVID, 18-Plus Months Later
A patient with COVID-19 on breathing support lies in a bed in an intensive care unit at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La., on Aug. 17, 2021.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

There's been renewed media focus on Florida as it grapples with COVID, with record-breaking numbers of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. When it comes to hospitalizations, the country as a whole has taken a similar step back. The Washington Post reports that more than 100,000 people are now hospitalized with the virus, reaching a level not seen since the end of January, which the paper notes was before vaccinations began in full force. Hospitalization rates are highest in the South. Reports of new infections are also similar to January's, with an average number of 150,000 daily cases reported on Wednesday. The silver lining: Deaths aren't coming close to the numbers seen in early 2021, with a daily average of 1,100 on Wednesday, compared to 3,100 in late January. More on the state of COVID in the US, a year and a half into the pandemic:

  • Pediatric hospitalizations: The number of COVID patients in pediatric hospitals are also experiencing a record-breaking surge, with new admissions for kids reaching its highest number since the US started tracking this demographic about a year ago, reports CNBC. CDC data show an average of 303 new admissions per day for the week ending Aug. 22, and doctors feel a combo of the delta variant and school reopenings will only make things worse.
  • A country divided: A Washington Post analysis reports on how polarizing and political COVID has become, especially regarding vaccines and masking, noting "it's worth taking stock of how unusual this internal feuding is over an issue of such national import." Per a recent Pew Research Center survey, the split in the US over COVID restrictions is larger than in any of the 10 other nations polled.
  • A difference in leadership: CNN notes a similar divide among officials across the nation, with some mayors, governors, and local leaders once more pulling out mitigation tools against the virus, while others throw caution to the wind. "This is not rocket science, everyone," Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said Tuesday after asking residents and tourists to avoid unnecessary activities for the next three weeks. "We've got to step it up again." On the flip side are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
  • Vax numbers: According to the CDC, about 73% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose. NBC News offers a map showing the number and percentage of unvaccinated adults in each state and US territory.

  • A 'significant twist': Until now, the first recorded COVID death in the US was said to have taken place on Feb. 6, 2020, in San Jose, Calif. Now, updated stats show there was such a fatality recorded in Kansas on Jan. 9, 2020, per the Kansas News Service. Indeed, an updated listing from the National Center for Health Statistics shows one death involving COVID for the week ending Jan. 11, 2020—as well as six other COVID-related deaths in January and early February. The Mercury News reports on this "significant twist," noting these early deaths took place not only in California and Kansas, but also in Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.
  • Official count: Per the numbers tracked by Johns Hopkins University, as of Thursday morning, the US has had more than 38 million COVID cases over the course of the pandemic, with 632,283 deaths in total.
(More COVID-19 stories.)

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