CHICAGO (NYTIMES) – More than 2,600 Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day, an alarming rate that has climbed by 30 per cent in the past two weeks. Across the United States, the coronavirus pandemic has now claimed more than 900,000 lives.
Yet another, simultaneous reality of the pandemic offers reason for hope.
The number of new coronavirus infections is plummeting, falling by more than half since mid-January. Hospitalisations are also declining, a relief to stressed healthcare workers who have been treating desperately ill coronavirus patients for nearly two years.
All that has created a disorienting moment in the pandemic: Though deaths are still mounting, the threat from the virus is moving, for now, further into the background of daily life for many Americans.
Mr Patrick Tracy of Mundelein, Illinois, has seen the disconnect up close.
In his county, new infections have fallen in recent weeks as the highly infectious Omicron variant has begun to recede nationwide. But as those case rates were dropping, Mr Tracy’s wife, Sheila, died from Covid-19.
Mrs Sheila Tracy, 81, a native of Ireland who was devoted to her grandchildren and the roses she tended in her front yard, was vaccinated but also had underlying medical conditions.
“The people who don’t get vaccinated – you tell them that almost 900,000 have died, and they say, ‘They’d have died anyway,'” Mr Tracy said. “We have very little consideration for our fellow man.”
The Omicron surge has brought with it an especially potent and fast-moving wave of death across the US.
The country’s per capita death rate still exceeds those of other wealthy nations, a reflection of widespread resistance to vaccines and boosters in the US.
During the Omicron surge, hospital admissions in the US have been higher than in Western Europe.
The pace of deaths across the country has accelerated throughout the fall and winter. When the US reached 800,000 deaths in mid-December, the most recent 100,000 deaths had occurred in less than 11 weeks.
This time, the latest 100,000 deaths – many from the Omicron variant – have been reported in just over seven weeks.