US sees highest COVID-19 daily death toll since May

Yesterday 1,499 Americans died from the novel coronavirus, the highest number since mid-May, and 1,000 Americans each day have succumbed to COVID-19 for the last 17 days, per 7-day rolling averages analyzed by the Washington Post.

Across the Southern half of the country, states continue to report record death tolls, with Georgia recording 105 deaths yesterday, the second day with more than 100 fatalities in a row. In Texas, 324 people died from the disease—a new single-day record.

In total, the United States has 5,226,916 COVID-19 cases and 166,623 deaths, according to the dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Throughout the pandemic, deaths have trailed new case counts by 2 to 4 weeks, as the virus can cause lengthy hospitalizations. Though many hot spots that lit up earlier this summer with a surge of cases are now reporting fewer positive tests and fewer hospitalizations, the death count may stay high until Labor Day.

In California, which has struggled to control the virus for months, there are signs the state is getting a handle on the virus. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the state has seen a 19% drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past 2 weeks.

Yesterday during a news conference Governor Gavin Newsom said parts of his state had opened too soon, and more care had to be put in place to maintain the gains California has made in recent weeks. Last month, Newsom had to re-shutter bars, indoor restaurants, gyms, and churches after seeing case numbers explode in early June.

Still, the death toll in California has been high: August has seen an average of 129 deaths a day, up from the daily average of 101 in July. In June, the daily average was just 64.

According to a new report based on data from The New York Times and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US may have already surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths. The estimate is based on the phenomenon of 'excess deaths,' which occurs when a region sees a surge of COVID-19 activity, or deaths from all causes.

Companies prepare for high demand of flu vaccine

Pharmaceutical companies are increasing their flu vaccine output by approximately 13% to 200 million doses this year. Experts, including CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, have said flu vaccination is critical this year so hospitals are not duly burdened with the demands of seasonal influenza and COVID-19.

"We don't want to have a patient in the [intensive care unit] on a ventilator for influenza when that hospital bed and ventilator could potentially be used for a COVID patient," Leonard Friedland, PhD, director of scientific affairs and public health for GlaxoSmithKline, told the Wall Street Journal.

In an interview today published on WebMD, Redfield said this could be one of the worst falls in US history from a public health standpoint.

"This is a year that I'm asking people to really think deep down about getting the flu vaccine," he said, while also urging all Americans to don a mask in public, avoid crowds, maintain social distance, and wash their hands to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

White House doubles down on school reopening

Yesterday President Donald Trump said his administration was sending 125 million masks to schools across the country to aid in reopening.

"To support the reopening of America's schools, we provided $13 billion in elementary and secondary schools towards the CARES Act and CARES Act funding," Trump said. "We will provide up to 125 million reusable masks to various school districts around the country."

Yesterday the White House also published new guidelines on safe school reopening, urging Americans to consider the negative impact of keeping schools closed. In recent weeks, school opening has become a political football.

"Prolonged school closures particularly impair the education, mental health, and social development of disadvantaged and special needs children, pushing them further behind their peers and inflicting long-lasting damage on them and the country," the document said. "We know how to protect high-risk individuals from infection, including students and their families, teachers, and staff. These high-risk individuals or those with high-risk individuals in their family, can be offered options for distance learning and distance teaching."

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