Although the daily death rates have ticked down slightly from August, updated federal data shows that the U.S. is still losing hundreds of Americans to COVID-19 every day, and 225,000 people in the U.S. have been lost to the virus since the start of 2022.
On average, more than 350 American deaths related to COVID-19 are still reported each day, and over the last seven days, the U.S. has reported nearly 2,500 deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, totals remain much lower than during prior COVID-19 surges, such as in January 2021, when an average of 3,500 people were reported lost to the virus on a daily basis.
The reaching of yet another grim milestone follows President Joe Biden’s remarks on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, during which he said “the pandemic is over.”
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over,” Biden said.
Earlier this week, public health experts pushed back on the president’s assertion, telling ABC News that that pandemic is not over yet, and that Biden’s comments may be somewhat premature.
In an interview with ABC News on Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky was reluctant to directly agree with the president’s assertion that “the pandemic is over,” but with hospitalization and case rates falling, and vaccines and treatments available, she said that “we’re in a different place.”
“I think if we look at the big picture, things are very different,” she said. “We’re in a different place. Schools are open and businesses are open. We have a lot of population immunity out there right now.”
However, Walensky said that even though there are currently fewer people dying from the virus on a daily basis in the U.S., hundreds of Americans are still dying of COVID-19 every day — a fatality rate that remains too high.
“Three hundred fifty deaths a day is still too many as far as I’m concerned, but we’re in a very different place,” Walensky added.
As the U.S. heads into the fall, wastewater levels in some parts of the country have indicated a slight upturn in the percentage of COVID-19 virus in samplings. Even so, the daily average of new infections continues to hover around 55,000 cases.
However, dozens of states have moved to shutter public testing sites, with more at-home COVID-19 tests now available. Most Americans are not reporting their results to officials, and thus, experts suggest that infection totals are likely significantly undercounted.
COVID-19 testing levels have also plummeted to their lowest point since the onset of the pandemic, with approximately 350,000 tests reported each day, compared to more than 2.5 million tests reported daily at the nation’s peak in January of this year.
In recent weeks, virus-related hospitalizations have continued to fall — with 30,000 virus-positive Americans receiving care in the U.S., down from about 33,000 patients in the hospital last week, according to data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The number of virus-positive Americans — 4,100 — currently entering the hospital each day is down by 6.8% in the last week.
Overall, the total remains significantly lower than at the nation’s peak this past January, when there were more than 160,000 patients hospitalized with the virus.