Nov 20, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus deaths will likely soar

Illustration of an hourglass with the sand in the shape of a virus
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. is careening toward more than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths a day, and could soon surpass the record set in the spring, The Atlantic reports.

The big picture: Even with treatment advances, a certain portion of people who are infected with the virus will eventually die. When you multiply this percentage by today's number of cases, the results are extremely grim.

Details: Over the last four months, the virus has killed at least 1.5% of Americans diagnosed with it. (The real fatality rate is likely lower, as many cases go undetected.)

  • "[P]redicting the virus's death toll in the near term has become a matter of brutal arithmetic: 150,000 cases a day, times 1.5 percent, will lead to 2,250 daily deaths," The Atlantic writes.
  • In April, the seven-day average of daily deaths hit a peak of 2,116.
  • It takes weeks for the number of deaths to reflect today's number of cases.

Between the lines: Part of the reason the death rate appears to have fallen drastically since the spring is that we're testing so many more people, including those with mild infections.

  • And while treatments have improved, good care is dependent on health care workers being available to give it. But hospitals across the country are becoming overwhelmed by the virus and suffering from staffing shortages.

What we're watching: Within the next month, significantly more Americans are likely to die every two days than died on 9/11. It's unclear whether that will be enough to cause the country to change direction.

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