It has been more than two and half years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite a return to a new form of normality for many people across the country, there are still hundreds of Americans dying from the virus every day, a grim reality of the pandemic's continued destruction.
The U.S. is currently averaging just under 400 daily COVID-19 related deaths. Although the daily number of fatalities is far lower than it was at the nation's peak, in January 2021, 3,400 Americans died of COVID-19 each day.
"The seven-day average daily deaths are still too high, about 375 per day — well above the around 200 deaths a day we saw earlier this spring and, in my mind, far too high for a vaccine-preventable disease," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House press briefing with the COVID-19 response team last week.
Over the last seven days, the U.S. has reported 2,500 deaths, and since the beginning of 2022, more than 221,000 Americans have died because of COVID-19.
The vast majority of Americans who are currently dying of COVID-19 are over the age of 75. Although more than 92% of Americans of the age of 65 have been fully vaccinated, many are not up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, and are at a higher risk for severe disease due to the virus.
The persistently high death rate, alongside concerns over the potential threat of a COVID-19 resurgence, has reignited the call for all Americans to get vaccinated. It is particularly important for those older or more vulnerable to get vaccinated and boosted with the new bivalent shots, which target not only the original strain of the virus, but also the omicron variant, experts said.
"We’re calling on all Americans: Roll up your sleeve to get your COVID-19 vaccine shot," White House COVID-19 Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said during a press briefing last week. "If you’re 12 and above and previously vaccinated, it’s time to go get an updated COVID-19 shot."
As the vaccine rollout expands, Jha added the administration plans to put "special efforts" into reaching older Americans, people living in congregate care settings such as nursing homes, and others who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
Throughout the summer, COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers have oscillated widely across the country. Numbers appeared to be on the decline, but in recent weeks, the number of U.S. wastewater sites reporting increases in the presence of COVID-19 in their samples appears to be back on the rise, after declines seen throughout the latter part of the summer.
In the U.S., about 50% of wastewater sites, which are currently providing data to the CDC, have reported an increase in the presence of the COVID-19 virus in their wastewater, over the last 15 days, up from the 40% of sites reporting increases, last month, according to federal data.
Several sites across the Northeast, in particular, appear to be seeing notable increases. In Boston, wastewater levels had plateaued, after a spring and summer surge, but in recent weeks, data indicates that COVID-19 sampling levels have increased again to their highest level in two months.
However, it is important to note that data is unavailable for many areas of the country, particularly across much of the South and the West.
The U.S. is currently reporting about 70,000 new cases a day. This comes as testing levels have plummeted in recent months, with now under 350,000 tests reported each day — the lowest total since the onset of the pandemic.
However, hospital admission levels continue to fall nationally. About 4,500 virus-positive Americans are entering the hospital each day, down by about 8.4% in the last week.
There are currently about 33,000 virus-positive Americans receiving care in the U.S., down from about 37,000 total patients receiving care, one week ago. Overall, the totals remain significantly lower than at the nation's peak in January, when there were more than 160,000 patients hospitalized with the virus.