The coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly 300,000 more deaths than expected in a typical year

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/coronavirus-excess-deaths/2020/10/20/1e1d77c6-12e1-11eb-ba42-ec6a580836ed_story.html

The coronavirus pandemic has left about 285,000 more people dead in the United States than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them from covid-19 itself and the rest from other causes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

The CDC said the novel coronavirus, which causes covid-19, has taken a disproportionate toll on Latinos and Blacks, as previous analyses have noted. But the CDC also found, surprisingly, that it has struck 25- to 44-year-olds very hard: Their “excess death” rate is up 26.5 percent over previous years, the largest change for any age group.

It is not clear whether that spike is caused by the well-recognized shift in covid-19 deaths toward younger people between May and August, or deaths from other causes, the CDC said.

The report comes with just two weeks left in a presidential campaign whose central issue is President Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Trump has sought at every turn, including in remarks Monday, to minimize the virus’s impact, despite a covid-19 death toll that is likely to be the third-leading cause of mortality in the United States this year, behind heart disease and cancer. That stance has proven to be the president’s enduring weakness as the election looms Nov. 3.

His Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, has made his plans to tackle the pandemic the major focus of his bid to capture the White House.

“The number of people dying from this pandemic is higher than we think,” said Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, who has conducted independent analyses of excess mortality. “This study shows it. Others have as well.”

The data cover the period Feb. 1 to Sept. 16, meaning that excess deaths have almost certainly reached 300,000. Woolf said they are likely to hit 400,000 by the end of the year. The numbers were assembled by the National Center for Health Statistics, a unit of the CDC.

Outside analyses, including some by The Washington Post and researchers at Yale University, have found two main causes for excess deaths. Many probably were the result of covid-19, although they were not recorded that way on death certificates. Others are probably the result of deaths at home or in nursing homes from heart attacks, diabetes, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease, among people afraid to seek care in hospitals or unable to get it.

Overall, the CDC found “that excess deaths have occurred every week since March, 2020,” with a peak during the week of April 11 and another during the week ending Aug. 8. Those dates roughly coincide with the virus’s surge into the New York metro area near the start of the outbreak and a second major rise across the Sun Belt when many states reopened too soon in an effort to revive flagging economies.

The United States is in the midst of another sharp increase in coronavirus infections, this one centered in the upper Midwest and Plains states. The seven-day rolling average of cases, considered the most accurate barometer, is near 60,000 per day. At least 219,000 people have died of covid-19 so far, according to data kept by The Washington Post.

All told, an estimated 285,404 more people died than would be expected in a typical year, the CDC reported.

While the virus continues to prey mainly on older people and, disproportionately, African Americans and Latinos, the rate of excess mortality among 25- to 44-year-olds was less expected. Among 45- to 64-year-olds the increase was 14.6 percent, and among 65- to 74-year-olds it was 24.2 percent.

The unexpected mortality rate of adults in the prime of their lives, from 25 to 65, has been a source of ongoing concern in recent years, especially since a spike in deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide was recognized.

NIH chief: Trump has not met with White House COVID-19 task force in ‘quite some time’

https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/521876-nih-chief-trump-has-not-met-with-white-house-covid-task-force-in-quite-some

NIH chief: Trump has not met with White House COVID-19 task force in 'quite some time'
© AFP/Pool

President Trump has not met with the White House coronavirus task force in “quite some time,” the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Tuesday.

NIH Director Francis Collins told NPR’s “Morning Edition” that Trump instead gets his information from Vice President Pence and task force member Scott Atlas, neither of whom are infectious disease experts.

“I think the president primarily is getting his information from the vice president, from Dr. Atlas,” Collins said.

“Obviously, it’s a bit of a chaotic time with the election…There’s not a direct connection between the task force members and the president as there was a few months ago, but this seems to be a different time with different priorities.”

Atlas is a neuroradiologist and a fellow at the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank. He was added to the task force over the summer after appearing frequently on Fox News.

Atlas has emerged as one of Trump’s most influential advisers, but he has come under fire from public health experts inside and outside the administration who accuse him of feeding the president misinformation.

Like Trump, Atlas has publicly questioned the value of doing more testing, mask wearing, and has said pandemic restrictions amount to “panic.”

Atlas has also argued that even if low-risk people get infected with COVID-19, it won’t lead to more deaths.

Most controversially, he has praised the herd immunity strategy outlined in a document called the “Great Barrington Declaration,” which calls for allowing the virus to spread among lower-risk, younger people to build up immunity while having “focused protection” on older, high-risk people.

In the NPR interview, Collins urged people to “consider the source” of their information about the coronavirus, and listen to public health officials.

Collins also said the surge of COVID-19 infections is “sadly somewhat predictable” because the U.S. has never been willing or able to get the virus under control and drive infections down to a manageable level.

“We have not succeeded in this country in introducing really effective public health measures, those simple things that we all could be doing. Wear your mask, keep that six-foot distance and don’t congregate indoors, whatever you do, and wash your hands. It’s so simple,” Collins said

“People are talking about, is this the second wave? We never got over the first wave, we never really drove the cases down to the baseline,” he added. “Here we are now with 220,000 dead and we’re going straight up again with the number of cases that are happening each day.”

In U.S. Midwest states, new COVID-19 infections rise to record highs

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa/in-u-s-midwest-states-new-covid-19-infections-rise-to-record-highs-idUSKBN2702HS

– Wisconsin and other states in the U.S. Midwest are battling a surge in COVID-19 cases, with new infections and hospitalizations rising to record levels in an ominous sign of a nationwide resurgence as temperatures get colder.

More than 22,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday across the Midwest, eclipsing the previous record of more than 20,000 on Oct. 9. Hospitalizations in those states reached a record high for a 10th consecutive day, as some hospitals began feeling the strain.

More than 86% of the beds in Wisconsin’s intensive care units were in use as of Wednesday.

A field hospital opened in a Milwaukee suburb in case medical facilities become overwhelmed. Neat rows of makeshift cubicles enclosing beds and medical supplies occupied the fairgrounds in West Allis, which has been the home of the Wisconsin State Fair since the late 1800s.

Dr. Paul Casey, the medical director of the emergency department at Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said entire wards full of COVID-19 patients were stretching resources “to the limit.”

“It’s going to get worse,” he told CNN on Thursday. “We predict it will peak mid-Novemeber.”

More than 1,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in Wisconsin on Wednesday, the state’s health department said. Health authorities recorded a near 25% spike in coronavirus hospitalizations in the past seven days compared to the previous week.

Other Midwestern states were also setting grim records.

Since the start of October, North Dakota and South Dakota have reported more new COVID-19 cases per capita than all but one country in the world, tiny Andorra.

These states are reporting three times as many new cases per capita this month than the United Kingdom, Spain or France – where infections were also on the rise – according to a Reuters analysis.

“It’s quite concerning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, said in an interview with ABC television on Thursday. “We really got to double down on the fundamental public health measures that we talk about every single day because they can make a difference.”

Fauci also warned about the risks of crowded gatherings, as President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail after recovering from his own bout with the coronavirus.

COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a record high on Wednesday in Iowa as well, while the state also posted its biggest one-day increase in cases since Aug. 28.

Trump, making a push in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 presidential election after being hospitalized with COVID-19, held a large rally in Iowa on Wednesday with most in attendance not wearing masks. He has continued to minimize the threat to public health posed by the virus that has killed more than 216,000 Americans.

“CLUSTERS” THE NEW NORMAL

New York, once the U.S. epicenter of the global health crisis, is now dealing with infection spikes in several “clusters.” Governor Andrew Cuomo said he expected flare-ups to continue for at least a year.

“The way of the world going forward is going to be that the virus will constantly flare up in certain locations,” Cuomo told reporters this week.

His efforts to stem local outbreaks of the coronavirus have put him in a two-front religious battle with Catholics and Jews, who are asking courts to void restrictions they argue limit religious freedom.

Cuomo, a Catholic, said his the measures, which restricted gatherings at religious institutions to as few as 10 people in certain targeted areas, were not intended to single out religious groups and were consistent with other steps he has taken to combat “clusters” where infections spread rapidly.

But he also blamed Orthodox Jewish communities for causing some of the infection spikes in their areas.

An intensive care nurse at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City told Reuters on Thursday there are at least a dozen patients with the virus in critical care there, the majority of whom are Orthodox Jews.

There are about 50 patients with the virus in her hospital and that number is “increasing every day,” she said, asking to not be named because she was not authorized to speak to media.

Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago and Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter and Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot

Understand that as much as tRump wants to ignore Covid and as much as he wants to promote the massive amount of deaths from just ignoring the Covid virus using a stupid herd immunity, despite the attempt in states with Republican governors wanting to hide the numbers of hospitalization and deaths to fool the public.   Will the Republicans be happy when hospitals are over whelmed and people are dying in hallways like it was in the beginning of the crisis in New York.   Remember why New York and and Seattle were hot spots because that was where flights from Europe were coming into.  Not China as tRump wants to pretend, but all the science shows most of our infection comes from Europe.    This virus is going to really start racing through our country.   The tRump people want to ignore the virus because they have healthcare and assets we do not, and it benefits them if we ignore it and go back to what they think was normal, making money for them.  That we get sick, rack up huge unpayable bills in hospitals, and even die is something that they don’t care about at all.  They want the money, they don’t care if you die giving it to them.   Hugs