Infections and deaths continue to climb across the U.S. as schools begin reopening and low-income communities find themselves lacking access to intensive care unit beds.
This week in Georgia, a seven-year-old boy became the youngest in the state to die due to COVID-19. Doctors say the child had no underlying health complications—once again reminding us just how little we know about the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile, infections and deaths continue to climb across the United States as schools begin reopening for the fall semester, and low-income communities find themselves lacking access to intensive care unit beds.
Here’s the latest we know in the fight against COVID-19, in no particular order:
New York City moves beyond once being a deadly epicenter.
After being one of the worst-hit coronavirus hotspots in the spring, the city reported three straight days of no COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday. New York City will be the only major U.S. school district to resume a somewhat regular school year, with plans to introduce a contact tracing group that will specifically focus on the school population.
The U.S. continues to regularly record more than 1,000 daily COVID deaths.
The country saw a 24% increase in deaths over the course of the week, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. And on Tuesday, the U.S. marked nine straight days of more than 1,000 deaths every 24 hours. Albeit alarming, that is lower than the daily death rate of nearly 3,000 in April.
As of Friday morning, more than 160,000 Americans had died because of the coronavirus. A day earlier, California crossed the grim milestone of 10,000 deaths.
Year-end death projections are increasing and speeding up.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) says the U.S. will reach nearly 300,000 deaths by Dec. 1. This projection is a month sooner than a previous estimate from the former Food and Drug Administration head, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who said in a recent interview he believed that milestone would be reached by the end of the year.
If reached, it would surpass the number of U.S. soldiers killed in WWII, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. The current death toll has already surpassed fatalities from the worst U.S. flu seasons in history.
IHME states at least 40,000 people could be saved if 95% of Americans wore masks. And its model foresees “many states will reimpose a series of mandates, such as nonessential business closures and stay-at-home orders, when daily death rates hit 8 per million.”
The school year is underway, and it’s starting off rocky.
Some school districts started fall classes this week, and it isn’t going well. Several states are seeing coronavirus cases pop up in reopened schools already, forcing hundreds of teachers and students to quarantine. Major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles to Chicago, Miami, Houston, and Washington, D.C., have announced classes will begin remotely. CNN estimates that about 7 million school-aged children will be distance-learning in the fall.
COVID infections and testing rates worsen across the country.
Positive coronavirus cases are climbing while the availability of tests is dwindling. The national tally of COVID cases is nearing 5 million. California became the first state to reach 500,000 confirmed cases, and Florida followed behind on Wednesday. Experts are also tracking multiple Midwestern states reporting higher positive rates.
An analysis by the Associated Press also found a 3.6% decrease in daily tests done in close to half of U.S. states over the past two weeks.
A majority of Americans believe their states reopened too early.
According to a new Pew Research survey, 69% of adults in the U.S. think stay-at-home orders and restrictions on open businesses or public activity were removed too soon. Of those surveyed, 73% said controlling the spread of infections is the best way to return to a strong economy—including feeling comfortable enough to resume things like shopping.
Low-income Americans overwhelmingly have no access to an ICU bed.
New research by Penn Medicine found that at least half of low-income regions in the U.S. don’t have an intensive-care unit bed per 10,000 residents 50 years old or older. It’s a concern given how the pandemic has greatly impacted poor communities and older Americans.
Concerns rise over whether the U.S. is ready to produce a vaccine.
There are concerns the country won’t initially have enough supplies to produce an approved coronavirus vaccine for high-risk Americans. Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. government did, however, pen a $1 billion deal to produce 100 million doses of its vaccine if it proves to be effective and safe. The order follows previous U.S. deals with Sanofi and other companies.
The U.S. downgraded its pandemic-related global travel advisory.
The State Department on Thursday lifted the Level 4 advisory warning Americans against international travel—the highest alert of its kind—imposed since March 19. However, there aren’t that many countries accepting Americans. And even if they are, two-week quarantines or other medical requirements are imposed for U.S. travelers when they arrive.
Jobs were added in July, but not enough.
The latest monthly jobs report released Friday morning reported a lower unemployment rate of 10.2%, down from 14.8% in April. And 1.8 million new jobs were added in the month of July. However, these numbers aren’t entirely positive since unemployment still ranks higher than the 10% rate seen in 2009, and job growth has slowed significantly from the 4.8 million added in June.