U.S. Set to Reach 300,000 Covid Deaths. Actual Toll May Be Worse

The U.S. appears poised to cross 300,000 Covid-19 deaths in the next week, a sign of the unprecedented gravity of the pandemic as states prepare for their first coronavirus vaccinations.

By early Friday, at least 292,382 people had died of the virus in the U.S., and the numbers have been rising at a record 2,272-a-day average in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The actual death toll may take much longer to tally, due in part to extensive lags in reporting and the possibility that virus fatalities have been missed along the way.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there have been as many as 381,896 so-called excess deaths identified since Feb. 1, a number that represents mortality above normal statistical expectations. That’s significantly more than the number of confirmed Covid deaths, and may point to fatalities missed due to limited initial Covid testing and other factors.

Even with excess deaths, recent weeks are subject to underestimation.

The CDC notes that further study is needed to determine if excess deaths are directly or indirectly related to Covid, but available data show spikes in deaths attributed to influenza and pneumonia, as well as hypertensive diseases, diabetes and other conditions that are known risk factors for severe Covid-19.

Nationally, the U.S. posted 224,514 new Covid-19 cases Thursday, pushing the seven-day average to a record 210,291, according to Johns Hopkins University.

According to Covid Tracking Project data:

  • The number of people currently hospitalized with Covid-19 in the U.S. rose to a record 107,248.
  • Current hospitalizations are rising more than 10% in 15 states and jurisdictions, roughly flat in 31 (-10% to +10%) and falling more than 10% in five.

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