“The death toll is quite staggering”

As COVID-19 mortality rates continue to rise nationally, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University say in a new JAMA editorial that the virus has become the leading cause of death in the US – killing more than 3,000 Americans a day.

To put the daily number of COVID-19 deaths in context, the researchers state: “The US daily mortality rate for COVID-19 deaths is equivalent to the September 11, 2001 attacks that claimed 2,988 lives, which occurred in every 1.5 days or 15 Airbus 320 planes, each carrying 150 passengers, which crash every day. “

Editorial authors – Dr. Steven H. Woolf, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center for Society and Health; Derek A. Chapman, associate professor in the epidemiology division; and Jong Hyung Lee – noted that “daily mortality rates for heart disease and cancer, which have been the two leading causes of death for decades, are about 1,700 and 1,600 deaths per day, respectively. With COVID-19 mortality rates now exceeding these thresholds, this infectious disease has become more deadly than heart disease and cancer, and its lethality may increase even more as transmission increases with travel and holiday gatherings and the intensified indoor exposure that winter brings.

The study’s lead author, Woolf, tells Yahoo Life: “Our country has allowed COVID-19 to grow from a rare disease to the leading cause of death, outpacing major killers such as heart disease and cancer. The tragedy is that much of this has been prevented and I wrote this play to sound the alarm that steps must be taken now to avoid another catastrophe. “

Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and safety officer at Wexner Medical Center in Ohio, tells Yahoo Life: “This is an astonishing and compelling statement that the COVID pandemic has caused a terrible human tribute and that each of us should be focused on do everything we can to change the course of this crisis. “

A COVID-19 disaster morgue consisting of refrigerated trailers is at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York, United States, December 14, 2020. (Photo by Michael Nagle / Xinhua via Getty)
A COVID-19 disaster morgue consisting of refrigerated trailers stands at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal on December 14 (Michael Nagle / Xinhua via Getty Images)

Large-scale loss can be difficult to understand

It is difficult for most people to understand such large-scale losses. Part of the problem is also that the death toll is “a little out of sight, out of mind,” Dr. Thomas Giordano, a professor and head of the infectious diseases department at Baylor College of Medicine, told Yahoo Life. “It happens in hospitals that are mostly closed to visitors and you do not see funerals and awakenings with the same regularity” due to COVID-19 restrictions and home stay orders. “I notice her the most on the obituary’s page. If you read them, you will see them, ”he says. “The death toll is quite staggering.”

Giordano also says it is difficult for people to react to a potential risk, “especially when it is something you cannot see or feel – it is a virus,” he explains.

He adds: “Trying to get people to change their behavior when there is a threat that I think is not relevant to them is difficult. Lots of people receiving [COVID-19] get better and stay well. And when your experience is, “Everyone I know is okay, or someone I know has taken it and died because they were really old and sick,” people tend to minimize that kind of risk ”.

Both Woolf and Gonsenhauser also say that the “misinformation” about the severity of the virus and how it spread has only added to the challenge. “It’s difficult to understand and, for some, it’s difficult to trust,” says Gonsenhauser. “The plague of viral misinformation triggered this year is the only thing we have seen, which is even more contagious than COVID-19 in 2020.” He adds that “the deliberate undermining of public confidence in the media and the scientific institution has created additional challenges”.

Woolf agrees, Yahoo Life says: “There has been too much misinformation, much of it coming from top politicians trying to minimize the pandemic and sow doubts about the science and motives of public health experts. . They risk their lives for their own good, and now we have a catastrophe on our hands. I’m worried that the good news about the vaccine will tempt people to take down their guard, not knowing that the vaccine won’t come fast enough to save them. “

When will the death toll begin to fall?

While the newly approved Pfizer vaccine is now being launched first for high-risk people, including health workers, Gonsenhauser says it is difficult to say when deaths from COVID-19 will begin to slow. “We probably haven’t seen the peak of daily deaths resulting from the increase in numbers immediately after Thanksgiving,” says Gonsenhauser, “and depending on the behavior during the December holidays, we can’t assume that the current trend will reverse until after the new year. That being said, we are seeing a positive impact of the new therapy used, and vaccination of our high-risk populations will also begin to have an impact on the number of deaths in the near future. “

Woolf estimates that “months” will pass before we can “vaccinate the population enough to reduce the rate of infections.” But, he says, “we could bend the curve much faster if the public took action. If we all wore masks, kept our social distance and avoided big meetings, we would see that infections decrease in a short time. Lack of discipline kills us. “

For the latest news and updates about coronavirus, follows from https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over the age of 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be most at risk. If you have any questions, please consult CDCand WHO resource guides.

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