More Americans died from COVID-19 this month than any other month since the start of the pandemic.
Deaths in December have surpassed the previous record set in April when 55,287 Americans died according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
After the large spike in April due to outbreaks in the Northern parts of the country, the number of COVID deaths decreased substantially until July when deaths started to rise again due to outbreaks in the South and West during the summer.
This month started with 259,697 Americans dead from the coronavirus. By December 23, the death toll was 317,513. 57,683 Americans died from COVID -19 between the first of the month and the twenty third. To put that grim number in perspective, one American died of COVID-19 every two minutes between December 1 and December 23.
This record is coming even as two vaccine rollout begins across the country with some frontline workers and residents of long-term care facilities receiving their first doses this month.
On average, 2,506 COVID deaths are reported per day in December. That’s more than the 1,876 average single day total in April during the initial surge of the virus when doctors had very little knowledge of how to treat COVID-19 patients.
Texas, California, Pennsylvania and Illinois have all recorded 3,000 deaths or more this month and is responsible for a significant portion of the country’s total. But smaller states such as North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and New Mexico all made significant contributions to the COVID-19 death total as well.
Last weekend more than 3 million travellers were screened by the TSA despite CDC warnings that people should stay home during the holidays. Though the numbers were down nearly 60% from a year ago its still cause for worry especially since there is a post-Thanksgiving spike in COVID-19 cases that’s already overwhelmed hospitals.
California, a state which is now the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States surpassed two million cases on Wednesday just six weeks after they recorded 1 million cases. Hospitals in the state are struggling to keep up and some have already run out of ICU beds due to the the post-Thanksgiving surge.
With less than a week to go since the year ends, we will not be seeing the effects of a post-Christmas surge in COVID cases or deaths until about mid-January. Because of a lag in reporting cases over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays that will obscure the reality of outbreak, and the biology of the virus, its incubation period is 7-14 days.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now projects there will be 378,000 to 419,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States by Jan. 16. Majority of that grim number will be due to the post-Thanksgiving surge and round about that time the post-Christmas surge will start to be in effect.