Monday, November 1, 2021 | Kaiser Health News

World Has Lost At Least 5 Million People To Covid

While it’s likely a vast undercount, the official pandemic death toll surpassed 5 million. “When we get out our microscopes, we see that within countries, the most vulnerable have suffered most,” an infectious disease specialist told the AP.

COVID-19’s Global Death Toll Tops 5 Million In Under 2 Years

The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 5 million on Monday, less than two years into a crisis that has not only devastated poor countries but also humbled wealthy ones with first-rate health care systems. Together, the United States, the European Union, Britain and Brazil — all upper-middle- or high-income countries — account for one-eighth of the world’s population but nearly half of all reported deaths. The U.S. alone has recorded over 740,000 lives lost, more than any other nation. (Johnson, 11/1)

Covid Deaths Top 5 Million Even As Vaccines Slash Fatality Rate

More than 5 million people worldwide have died from Covid-19 less than two years after the novel pathogen was first documented, despite the arrival of vaccines that have slashed fatality rates across the globe. The latest 1 million recorded deaths came slower than the previous two. It took more than 110 days to go from 4 million deaths to 5 million, compared to less than 90 days each to reach the 3- and 4-million marks. The rate has returned to what was seen during the first year of the pandemic, when the virus was still taking hold. (Hong, 11/1)

A World Remembers: Memorials Honor COVID-19’s 5 Million Dead

The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s first deadly wave is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: A grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe. Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the globe dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of 5 million confirmed dead. (10/30)

Also —

The Washington Post:
How Does A Pandemic Start Winding Down? You Are Looking At It

The pandemic isn’t over. But new cases nationally have dropped below 75,000 a day, less than half the number in August. The United States will soon reopen land borders to vaccinated visitors and lift several international travel restrictions. More than 2 million people boarded flights last Sunday, not too far from pre-pandemic travel levels. Kids, many of them newly vaccine-eligible, are back in school, with no massive surge of new coronavirus infections. Some older students, forced to mask, wear their face coverings as if they were chin guards. (Achenbach and Abutaleb, 10/31)

Delta Surge Appears To Be Past Its Peak

New covid case numbers in the U.S. are close to levels recorded near this time last year, the Wall Street Journal reports. In other news, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tests positive for covid, but the exposure risk to President Joe Biden has been deemed low.

The Wall Street Journal:
Delta Surge Of Covid-19 Recedes, Leaving Winter Challenge Ahead

The Delta wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is past its peak, with new cases, hospitalizations and deaths declining in most states. The approaching holidays and winter months will test whether the U.S. can sustain that momentum. New Covid-19 case numbers in the U.S. are close to levels recorded near this time last year, with a seven-day average at about 72,000 a day, Johns Hopkins University data show. But the trajectory is opposite. Last fall, cases were rising while hospitalizations and deaths, trailing indicators, were starting to follow. (Kamp and Abbott, 10/31)

U.S. Covid Cases Fall To Less Than Half Of Peak Delta Levels

U.S. Covid cases have fallen to less than half of the pandemic’s most recent peak, a sign that the country may be moving past the punishing wave brought on by the delta variant this summer. The U.S. reported an average of 72,000 new cases per day over the past week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down 58% from the most recent high mark of 172,500 average daily cases on Sept. 13. Vaccination rates have also risen in recent months — albeit more slowly than when the shots were first rolled out — to nearly 58% of fully vaccinated Americans as of Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. (Rattner and Towey, 10/30)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Florida Touts Its Low Coronavirus Case Rate, But California Has Fared Better In The Pandemic

Some partisans were quick to jump on the news as evidence that broad public health measures are unnecessary to stop the pandemic. But case rates are only a part of the picture of the impact COVID-19 has had on communities — and data shows that Floridians have suffered more from the coronavirus than residents of most other states. Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Florida has counted 277 deaths for every 100,000 residents — the seventh highest rate in the nation, according to data from the CDC. By comparison, California, has had 180 deaths per 100,000 people, still a tragic loss but a measure of the state’s relative success in combatting the disease. California’s cumulative death rate ranks 36th on a list including all 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Guam. (Echeverria, 10/30)

But delta’s grip isn’t letting up so easily in some places —

Colorado Lets Hospitals Turn Away Patients As Covid Surges Anew

The state of Colorado, where the Covid-19 vaccination rate is one of the highest in the U.S., will allow overwhelmed hospitals to turn away new patients, the governor’s office announced Sunday. The executive order by Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, authorizes the state health department to “order hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to transfer or cease the admission of (and redirect) patients to respond to the current COVID-19 Disaster Emergency in Colorado.” The governor’s order also brings the state closer to full-blown rationing of medical care. It allows for implementation of so-called crisis of care standards, a detailed protocol for health care workers to decide in an emergency who should be treated first. (Del Giudice, 10/31)

The Boston Globe:
Vermont, The Most Vaccinated State In The Nation, Has Been Weathering A Spike In COVID Cases. But Why?

Throughout the pandemic, Vermont has been a beacon for the country, with its highest-in-the-nation COVID-19 vaccination rate, and often one of the lowest infection rates, too. On several days last summer, the state reported close to zero new COVID cases. But since August, Vermont has been grappling with an alarming spike, often topping 200 new cases per day. The unexpected turn has triggered a sharp debate — at least by Vermont’s polite standards — over how forcefully to respond. The surge has leveled off in recent days but the case count remains high, tied with Maine for the most per capita in New England. (Lazar, 10/30)

In other news about the spread of the coronavirus —

Press Secretary Jen Psaki Tests Positive For Covid

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. Psaki is not traveling with President Joe Biden on his international trip, and last week cited a family emergency as the reason for not going. On Sunday, she said it was because members of her household tested positive, even though she had not at that time. (Cohen, 10/31)

Diet-Related Diseases Pose A Major Risk For Covid-19. But The U.S. Overlooks Them. 

The same week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care for Covid-19, two studies came out identifying obesity as a significant risk factor for serious illness and death. It was April 2020, and doctors were scrambling to understand why coronavirus gave some people mild symptoms and left others so sick they were gasping for air. After Johnson recovered, he became vocal about the role he believed his obesity had played in his brush with the virus: “When I went into ICU, when I was really ill … I was way overweight,” he said. (Evich, 10/31)

Nursing Home Residents Overlooked In Scramble For Covid Antibody Treatments 

Of the dozens of patients Dr. Jim Yates has treated for covid-19 at his long-term care center in rural Alabama, this one made him especially nervous. The 60-year-old man, who had been fully vaccinated, was diagnosed with a breakthrough infection in late September. Almost immediately, he required supplemental oxygen, and lung exams showed ominous signs of worsening disease. Yates, who is medical director of Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation, a skilled nursing facility 75 miles northeast of Birmingham, knew his patient needed more powerful interventions — and fast. (Aleccia, 11/1)

And Vice President Kamala Harris gets a booster shot —

Vice President Kamala Harris Gets COVID-19 Booster Shot 

Vice President Kamala Harris received a third shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, while calling on Americans to get vaccinated to “get through and beyond” the pandemic. The White House said Harris qualifies for a booster shot due to her job duties that include frequent traveling and interacting with people, AP reports. (Frazier, 10/30)

Monday, November 1, 2021