This finding, based on the CDC’s Covid dashboard, indicates that only 1.7% of the 324 Covid deaths registered in the week ending August 19 had the coronavirus as the primary cause of death.
This means that only a handful of American lives are being lost directly to the virus each week, a stark contrast to the pandemic’s peak in 2021 when the virus accounted for one in three “Covid deaths.”
The primary or underlying cause of death is the disease, situation, or event that initiated the chain of events directly resulting in death.
Complications arising from the primary cause are usually considered secondary causes when doctors register a death certificate.
For instance, Covid could be listed as a secondary cause of death when the virus puts too much stress on a person with a pre-existing heart condition. In this case, the primary cause of death would be heart disease, with Covid listed as a contributing cause.
Despite a slight increase from the previous week and a five-week upward trend, the percentage of Covid deaths for the week ending August 19 represents a drastic decline from the peak of the pandemic when 30% of deaths listed Covid as the primary cause.
Although the CDC has not reported the primary cause of death in cases where Covid was a secondary factor, separate data from the agency shows that, thus far in August, the largest cause of death in the US has been cancer, followed by heart diseases.
Furthermore, the data reveals that some states, including Washington, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, Maryland, and New York, have higher rates of deaths due to Covid, with Maryland and Florida having the highest at 3.4%.
Other states, like Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, and New York, hover around 2%, while more than two dozen states experienced just one to nine deaths due to Covid in the week ending on August 19. The death rate is slightly higher among women than men, and highest in people 75 years and older.
This new Covid data comes as a relief at a time when panic is rising across the US due to the circulation of highly transmissible new Covid variants, leading to more infections and hospitalizations and causing the reimplementation of some Covid mandates.
Recently detected variants EG.5, or Eris, and BA.8.26, or Pirola, have been found in several countries and the US. These variants, highly mutated, are thought to be better at avoiding vaccine and natural immunity, causing more infections.
Infections have reportedly doubled across the US amid the emergence of these variants, and hospital admissions among people with the virus have risen for the fifth week in a row.
However, they still remain at near-historic lows, and crucially, Covid deaths are not rising quickly.
This uptick in Covid cases led Hollywood movie studio Lionsgate to reinforce mask mandates at its Santa Monica, California offices last week. However, just several days later, the studio reversed its decision.
Similarly, Rutgers University in New Jersey and Morris Brown College in Georgia announced that face masks would be required for staff and students. Kaiser Permanente hospital in Santa Rosa, California, and Upstate Community Hospital in Syracuse, New York, also reinstated mask mandates for doctors, nurses, patients, and visitors.
In Kentucky, the Lee County School District canceled classes less than two weeks after opening because nearly one-fifth of its students were out sick with a “tripledemic” illness, including Covid, strep throat, and the flu.
As the situation evolves, President Biden indicated that his administration would “likely” recommend Americans receive another Covid booster vaccine in the coming weeks.
Biden signed a proposal on Friday asking Congress for more funding to update Covid vaccines to better protect against the new variants.
However, there seems to be little interest among Americans to receive boosters, with only 18% of eligible Americans having received any version of a booster.
While the rise of new variants and the reimplementation of some Covid mandates have caused a surge in panic, the CDC data shows a drastic decline in the percentage of deaths primarily caused by Covid since the peak of the pandemic.
As the situation continues to unfold, it is crucial to stay informed, follow the guidelines provided by health officials, and consider the broader context when interpreting new data.
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