As winter approaches in the United States, health officials are sounding the alarm about a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals an increase in COVID-19 related deaths in several states, including Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, and Maryland. Maryland reported the highest jump at 3 percent.
This rise in COVID-19 deaths follows a steady increase in cases since June, with a peak in September and stabilization around 15,000 cases nationwide in October and November. The CDC has previously noted that October marks the beginning of the respiratory virus season, and hospitalization rates are expected to increase during the winter months. Despite the increase in deaths, COVID-19 deaths account for an average of 2.4 percent of all deaths in the United States during the week ending November 11. Overall, deaths increased by 0.2 percent compared to the previous week.
Colorado and Maryland have the highest percentage of COVID-related deaths, with 4.3 and 5.5 percent of all deaths, respectively. In 12 other states, COVID-19 deaths accounted for between 2 and 3.9 percent of all deaths. Meanwhile, five states reported death rates at 2 percent or below. On the other hand, 21 states had only between one and nine deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the week ending November 11, and seven states reported a zero percent death rate.
As of November 16, the cumulative reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. reached 1,138,309. The CDC emphasizes the importance of vaccination, recommending booster shots for all, especially those in vulnerable categories, as the winter season unfolds.
The surge in COVID-19 deaths ahead of the holidays is raising concerns among health experts. The recent data shows absolute increases ranging from 0.1 percent in Colorado to 3 percent in Maryland. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have also increased by 8.6 percent. Currently, only 1.3 percent of U.S. counties are classified as having high hospital admission levels. The U.S. CDC predicts a comparable number of hospitalizations to the previous winter, potentially surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
While most parts of the country are experiencing minimal or low rates of emergency department (ED) visits with positive COVID-19 cases, there has been a 7.1 percent rise in ED visits recently. Some counties are witnessing high volumes of ED admissions due to severe respiratory infections. New Mexico is the only state reporting “substantial” rates of ED visits with positive COVID-19 cases.
The surge in COVID-19 deaths highlights the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the urgency of vaccination efforts. The CDC’s recommendation for booster shots remains crucial in enhancing immunity and mitigating the impact of the virus in the coming months. Vigilance and proactive measures will be essential to safeguard public health and mitigate the potential toll of the virus during the winter season.