The rate of the spread of COVID-19 had slowed across America. Despite a new surge, increases in daily fatal and confirmed cases are still about half what they were three months ago. Nevertheless, 573,551 Americans had died as of Tuesday, which is about 20% of the world’s total. The global death total just moved above a staggering 3 million. Confirmed cases have reached 31,976,092 in the United States, or about 23% of the global number. Hospitalizations, which were over 100,000 a day during the peak wave, have dropped into the thousands.
Variants have become a large part of the conversation among public health officials and epidemiologists. One variant, first identified in the United Kingdom and known as B.1.1.7, is more transmissible than the strain that was dominant in the United States over most of the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also officially tracks these other variants: B.1.351, P.1, B.1.427 and B.1.429. Worries are that some may be more deadly than others and that vaccines may not protect against one or more variants.
Scientists believe that new variants will continue to appear, some of which may originate in America and others that may come from overseas. Tuesday it was announced that “Scientists at the Texas A&M University Global Health Research Complex (GHRC) have identified a variant of the COVID-19 virus — ‘BV-1’ — that could present a new challenge to public health.”
The CDC and several media sources show that the numbers of COVID-19 cases have risen recently in well over half the states in America, currently led by a rapid spread in Michigan. That state asked the federal government for additional vaccine doses because of the surge there. The request was denied, but the head of the CDC suggested the state be shut down to resolve the problem.
While public health officials and epidemiologists look at cases and deaths per 100,000 so that they can make comparisons from state to state and county to county, raw numbers continue to tell a story about the pandemic’s devastation.
The U.S. county with the most deaths by far is Los Angeles County, where, according to John Hancock, 23,668 people have died. That is more than twice the county with the second-highest count: Kings County. It is part of New York City and has had 10,020 coronavirus fatalities. Many of those deaths occurred during the winter surge that ran from late 2020 through early 2021. On some days during that period, hospitals in the county were overwhelmed.
Without question, one reason the Los Angeles figure is so high is that it is the largest county in America by population. It had 10,039,107 residents as of the July 1, 2019, census estimate. However, this does not downplay the extent to which the county has suffered.