Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day
The U.S. Omicron wave may be peaking, but now COVID deaths are climbing as cases continue to soar in most of the country.
The big picture: Omicron's stranglehold in the U.S. started about a month ago. Its death toll — while almost certain to be smaller than previous waves of the pandemic — is only now starting to take hold, and deaths will likely continue to rise for several weeks.
By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging just under 1,900 deaths per day — a 42% increase over the past two weeks.
- The Omicron wave is already receding in the places where it first took hold: New cases are slowing down significantly in and around Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
- But it hasn't yet run its course in the rest of the country. While cases are declining on the East Coast, they've continued to climb just about everywhere else.
- Nationwide, the U.S. is averaging almost 760,000 new cases per day — up 30% over the past two weeks.
Where it stands: This phase of the pandemic will probably end relatively soon. The Omicron wave swept through South Africa and the U.K. quickly, and now appears to be following a similar trajectory in the U.S.
- Omicron is far less deadly than its predecessors. A smaller proportion of infected people become severely ill, and a smaller proportion die from the virus.
- But skyrocketing cases will still translate into some increase in deaths. Now we're beginning to see that happen. And deaths may continue to rise, trailing consistently behind a surge in cases that's still going on.
The bottom line: This will not last forever, but for now, vulnerable people are still at risk — especially if they're unvaccinated.