According to USA Today, The United States of America represented 16% of the world deaths, while only representing 4% of the world population. Of countries with at least 5 million cases, the US is third in deaths per 1000 at 303. “First” on the list is Brazil with 313 and next is Poland with 307. Canada had 105 deaths per thousand and Mexico lost 254 human beings per 1000 citizens. See more from USA Today
The most recent wave of COVID-19 appears to only be gaining steam as hospitalizations are on the rise in certain parts of Arizona. Until recently, hospitalization statistics were still lagging behind the number of cases and causing optimism among experts and policymakers who have asserted that COVID-19 is now more mild and endemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined that public indoor masking should be reinstituted for places experiencing an elevated surge in COVID-19 cases. According to Yahoo News, CDC Director Rochelle Wallensky asked state and local officials to implement mitigation procedures:
We urge local leaders to encourage the use of prevention strategies like masking in public indoor settings and increasing access to testing and to treatment.
One such place is Yuma, with Yuma Regional Medical Center reporting a 30% week-over-week influx of COVID-19 inpatients, according to data from the New York Times.
For the rest of Arizona, cases were up nearly 50%, with 7,204 new positive cases recorded. Deaths still lag behind the case count, as has been the pattern during this most recent wave of Omicron subvariant BA.2, with the week’s total at 29. These numbers are reported weekly on the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) COVID-19 data dashboard.
One Million COVID-19 Deaths
On May 12, the U.S. reached 1,000,000 lives lost to COVID-19 since formal records began at the beginning of the pandemic. To convey the gravity of this truly staggering number, NPR notes that this is more than died of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, and makes COVID-19 the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It also accounts for the single largest drop in life expectancy since World War II. From Brown University epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo:
It’s one of these things where the numbers are just so large, it’s hard to even wrap your head around it. It’s just unfathomable to think that those are people — loved ones — who are now missing from this earth. It’s really, really hard to comprehend.
The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association released a joint statement on the impact these deaths have had on the nation’s medical infrastructure:
Our nation’s nurses, physicians, and other dedicated health care professionals and essential workers have been on the front lines from day one, seeing firsthand the devastating impact this virus has had on far too many patients, families and communities. The pandemic has also taken a large toll on the wellbeing of many of our caregivers and put a spotlight on the need to continue to support those who take care of us.
Throughout the pandemic, the single largest area in which deaths have taken place have been among the elderly, and especially in nursing homes. To mark the gravity of this milestone, USA Today opened its report card rating system for COVID outcomes at nursing homes. The tool, previously only available to subscribers, allows users to look at individual nursing homes based on indicators like deaths, infections and nursing hours.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine booster for children ages 5 to 11 on Tuesday. NPR reports that a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was found to be safe and boost antibody levels based on a small study supported by the FDA and the manufacturer.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has signaled that it will likely extend the formal public health emergency (PHE) in July to mid-October. The department previously stated that it would give notice 60 days prior to the PHE’s end, which has now passed.
According to Inside Health Policy, HHS has also told governors to be fully prepared to make Medicaid redeterminations when the PHE comes to a close. To accomplish this, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will hold monthly meetings to assess states’ needs and readiness for the end of the PHE.