Covid-19 death rate slows slightly as U.S. nears 200,000 fatality milestone

National News

U.S.A. (NBC) (09/15/20)— The silver lining as the United States stands poised to record the 200,000th coronavirus fatality is that the rate at which people are dying of Covid-19 has slowed in the last two weeks, new NBC News figures revealed Monday.

The 11,015 deaths recorded between Aug. 30 and Sept. 13 were 17 percent less than the previous two weeks’ total of 13,244, the figures showed.

“It may be a statistical blip, it may be because the treatment is getting better, or it may be because the patients have been getting younger,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Most of the dead thus far have been the elderly and the infirm, but hundreds of new cases in recent weeks have been students who contracted the virus after returning to classes on college campuses.

Currently, some 20 percent of the cases in intensive care units are people between the ages of 18 and 34 whose chances of survival are better than those for the elderly or already ill people, Khan said.

Also, the weekly death toll numbers have gone up and down repeatedly during the crisis, the NBC News figures show.

Image: FILE PHOTO: Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) leave with a patient at Hialeah Hospital where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients are treated

But seven months after President Donald Trump privately told reporter Bob Woodward that the coronavirus was “deadly stuff,” the U.S. continued to lead the world with 195,337 deaths and 6.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Right now, the U.S. accounts for over a fifth of the world’s 925,596 fatalities and a fifth of the more than 29 million cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 dashboard.

Trump has denied lying about the severity of the pandemic to the American public. And despite the increasingly grim numbers, he has repeatedly praised his administration’s response to the crisis that has wrecked the economy and continues to claim at least 800 or so lives a day in the U.S.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, a research outfit whose optimistic forecasts the Trump administration once touted, is projecting there could be over 400,000 deaths in the U.S. by Jan. 1.

The majority of the deaths were reported in March and April in the Northeast when local health officials were still trying to understand how the virus was transmitted and were struggling to find enough masks, ventilators and hospital beds to combat the crisis.

In recent months, most of the Covid-19 deaths have been in the Southern and the Sun Belt states that began reopening in May at the urging of Trump even as the number of cases began to spike in states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona.

And of late, South Dakota and neighboring Midwestern states have seen big increases in new cases with public health experts pointing the finger at the massive Sturgis motorcycle rally last month, where there was little or no mask-wearing or physical distancing, and the resumption of in-class education.

“Two things clearly appear to be driving it,” Khan told NBC News in an earlier interview. “The motorcycle rally in Sturgis, as well as students returning to college and universities. The timeline seems to support that.”

One death so far has been linked directly to the rally, a 60-something man in Minnesota who had been at the festival and had underlying conditions.

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