While the growth of COVID-19 cases across the United States has slowed, it remains a tremendous danger. The daily growth of confirmed cases has slowed to less than 100,000 from much more than twice that amount three short months ago. New fatal cases per day now run as low as 1,000, which is much as three-quarters lower than the peak. Nevertheless, there have been 29,633,697 confirmed cases so far, which is about 25% of the world’s total. Fatal cases in the United States are at 538,918, about 20% of the global number. A new forecast from one of the top COVID-19 research organizations is that 598,523 people will die of COVID-19 by July 1. However, the number could be higher if America reopens too quickly.
Vaccination rates have risen quickly in the past two weeks. The Biden administration says it will have enough vaccine for all Americans by May 1. At this point, 21% of Americans have received at least one dose and 11% have been fully vaccinated. Nationwide, 135,846,665 doses have been delivered and 105,703,501 have been given.
There are two challenges to further slowing the spread of the disease. The first is variants, some of which may spread faster than the version that infected most people from last January until recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks three of these for the public: the B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1 variants. These variants are in all 50 states, and epidemiologists believe that there are more than just three.
The other challenge is the opening up of parts of the United States. Texas, the second-largest state by population, is a case in point. The governor has dropped the state’s mask mandate, allowed a renewal of social gatherings and opened businesses. Public health officials worry this may cause a fourth wave of the disease.
As the disease surged through its third wave in December and January, the epicenter of cases and deaths moved to Los Angeles County, which developed shortages of hospital beds. The hardest-hit counties earlier in the year had been in and around New York City. That was no longer the case by late 2020. While some counties in New York City and neighboring counties had the highest death counts until early winter, that changed as the disease ravaged southern California.
With 22,474 fatal cases, Los Angeles County has more than twice the death count of the next county on the list, which is Cook County, Illinois, home to Chicago, with 9,514. That is followed by Maricopa County, Arizona, home to Phoenix, with 9,437 fatalities.
Los Angeles County also leads the nation in confirmed cases at 1,210,265. That is a higher number than for all but five states.
Increases in fatal and confirmed cases in Los Angeles County have slowed considerably. Sunday, there were 634 new cases and 28 new deaths. Even those numbers are a reminder that the disease is not close to going away.