The United States, getting closer to overcoming the pandemic: the number of daily deaths fell to its lowest level in 10 months.
No state in the country has a rising curve, aided by the massive vaccination campaign. However, specialists warn of one last threat.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States has dropped to an average of 600, its lowest level in 10 months, and in most states, it has been zero for a few days or less.
Confirmed infections, meanwhile, have dropped to about 38,000 in a single day, their lowest level since mid-September. Although still painful, they fell by 85% from a peak of more than a quarter of a million daily cases in early January.
In early July, about a year ago, the last death toll was low. COVID-19 deaths in the United States peaked in mid-January, with an average of more than 3,400 deaths a day in just the first month of the largest vaccination campaign in the country's history.
No new deaths were reported in Kansas between Friday and Monday. In Massachusetts, the Boston Herald put a huge zero on the front page on Wednesday, with the headline, for the first time in almost a year, there have been no new deaths from the coronavirus in the state.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University, said that the fight against polio has been so important that even as the country struggles to avoid herds, the goal seems complex. The main goal is to deny the virus the ability to kill at the rate it can, and this has been achieved. We have controlled the virus effectively," he said.
About 45% of the country's adults have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 58% have received at least one dose. This week, Pfizer's vaccine received the green light for use in children aged 12 to 15, making it easier for schools to reopen.
Doctors like Dr. Tom Dean in rural South Dakota's Jerauld County are carefully positive. However, they are concerned about the high number of people who have decided not to get vaccinated or have relaxed their monitoring of protections upon infection. The county has recorded only three confirmed cases in the past two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins. "What annoys me is that there are people who believe it's all over, and there's no cause to trouble anymore," Dean said. I believe that satisfaction is our most important warning right now.
According to data provided by Johns Hopkins as of Tuesday, several states, including Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, and Hawaii, recorded an average of less than one COVID-19 death per day in the past week.
And even among the five states with the most daily deaths - Michigan, with a mean of 65.4, Florida, with 61.7, California, with 48, Texas, 44, and New York, with 39.3 - all figures, except for Florida, were falling.
California, the epicenter of the outbreak in the US during the winter, recorded 1,231 new confirmed cases on Wednesday, down from a peak of 40,000. Los Angeles County reported 18 deaths Tuesday, up from more than 200 a day in January.
Vermont, which leads the country with nearly 63% in the proportion of its population with at least one dose of vaccine, has not reported a COVID-19 death for almost a week.
The improvement has not been so spectacular everywhere. Michigan, which has had the worst infection rate in the country for weeks, is only now beginning to see a decline in mortality.
But in the last two weeks, the state's average daily average fell from 4,860 to 2,680 on Monday. "Every day, we are close to leaving this epidemic behind, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said.
In Kansas, Amos Family Funeral Home & Crematory considered for some COVID-19 victims at the outbreak's top. But he's been taking charge of one for weeks, said Parker Amos, president of the Kansas City area company. "It is a great support," he said. "Particularly at the beginning of this, when we didn't know precisely how bad it was or how bad it was going to be, it was scary to be in this industry.
The funeral home is now working with a delay in funeral services that families postponed when cases spiked. "You want families to be able to have that closure," Amos said, "and putting up with that for a year is something that we feel for those families to a great extent because it is really hard."
Dr. Mark Rosenberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, came close to being put on a ventilator when he contracted COVID-19 in December.
Now he is amazed at how things have changed; people are surprised to say that he is reminded of the pictures he has seen of soldiers returning from WWII. "It feels like we made it," said Rosenberg, who practices emergency medicine at St. Joseph's Health in Paterson, New Jersey. "People touch each other again. They hug."
The total death toll in the United States from the pandemic stood at more than 583,000 as of Wednesday. Teams of experts consulted by the CDC projected in a report last week that new deaths and cases will drop sharply in late July and continue to decline afterward.
This encouraging prospect is in contrast to the catastrophe that is unfolding in places like India and Brazil.
I think we are in good time, but I think India is an important precautionary story, warned Justin Lesley, a science professor at Johns Hopkins. Suppose there is a rapid rollback of vaccine doubts, perhaps new forms, and control measures. In that case, we can change it, and there could be another wave that will ultimately clean out this area, Lesley said.
Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington, predicted that as vaccinations continued, both confirmed cases and deaths would decline in the summer, leading many to assume that "COVID- 19 has disappeared", even as outbreaks in places like India have the potential to fuel new, more virulent variants.
The race is to vaccinate as much as we can before we go into winter, Mokdad said, adding that the current percentage of the vaccinated population is not high enough to stop another wave of coronavirus infections.