The highly contagious omicron variant has been taking over the world and the US is no exception, the number of deaths caused by COVID being higher than when the previous strain, delta, was dominant.
Not only that but it appears the death toll is only going to rise in the days or even weeks to come.
More precisely, the full week average for new deaths caused by the virus in the United States has been only getting higher since the middle of November, reaching no less than 2,267 on Thursday and also surpassing the peak in September – 2,100 – when delta was still dominant.
Omicron has been estimated to account for almost all the infections in the country and despite the fact that it tends to cause less severe symptoms in most patients, a greater number of people are getting sick and even passing away because of Omicron being so much more easily transmissible.
A public health professor from University of California, Irvine, by the name of Andrew Noymer, stated that “Omicron will push us over a million deaths. That will cause a lot of soul searching. There will be a lot of discussions about what we could’ve done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable.”
The daily death toll, on average, is currently on the same level as this time last year when the country was actually coming off the record of 3,300 a day.
According to an AP-NORC poll, more American citizens are taking precautionary measures against COVID-19 now than prior to Omicron being identified.
With that being said, many people are still slowly returning to a certain level of normalcy, hoping that any prior infections or the vaccines available will be able to protect them from the highly transmissible strain of the virus.
Thankfully, the symptoms caused by Omicron are milder most of the time, in some cases people even experiencing none!
However, just as in the case of the flu, it can still be deadly, especially for seniors, as well as those unvaccinated or who have other serious health issues.
Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previously pointed out during a White House briefing this week that “Importantly, ‘milder’ does not mean ‘mild.'”
Sure enough, one such unfortunate case was Chuck Culotta, a man who died not too long before his 51st birthday after being diagnosed with Omicron.
The middle-aged man who used to run a power-washing business in Milford, Delaware, was previously healthy but upon testing positive for the virus on Christmas Day, his health worsened more and more, ultimately losing the battle less than a week after, on December 31, which was also only 9 days before his birthday.
His brother, Todd, mentioned that the man was not vaccinated, explaining that it was because he was concerned about any possible long-term effects of the shot.
Todd, who received his own vaccine doses last summer, added that his brother “just was not sure it was the right thing to do — yet.”
In the meantime at a hospital in Kansas, no less than 50 patients infected with COVID-19 have passed only this month and over 200 others are currently receiving help there.
To show just how serious the situation really is the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City shared a video taken in their morgue that showed bodies bagged in a refrigeration unit as well as a worker marking a white body bag with “COVID.”
The hospital’s decedent affairs coordinator, Ciara Wright, makes it very clear that “This is real. Our concerns are still ‘Are the funeral homes going to come fast enough?’ We also have access to a refrigerated truck. We do not want to use it if we do not have to.”
Furthermore, a pathologist who does autopsies there, Dr. Katie Dennis, stated that their morgue has actually been above capacity nearly every single day this month “which is definitely unusual.”
The United States has a total death toll of 878,000 victims, which is far more than anywhere else in the world.
And that’s not even all! According to the COVID-19 Forecast Hub, nearly every state in the US will experience an even faster increase in deaths even though the numbers have already peaked in a few of them including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Iowa, Maryland and Alaska.
On the other hand, new CDC data suggests that hospital admissions are starting to fall for all age groups and that a drop in death numbers is also expected to follow.
Nicholas Reich, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst who also aggregates coronavirus projections for the COVID-19 Forecast Hub in collaboration with the CDC, shared that “In a pre pandemic world, during certain flu seasons, we see 10,000 to 15,000 deaths. We see those numbers in the course of only a week sometimes with COVID. The toll and the sadness and the suffering is staggering and really humbling.”