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Amid Bad News on COVID, One Silver Lining

Cases are surging again in the US, but the death rate isn't
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2020 12:00 PM CDT
Study Counts 2.5M Years of Lost Life in US Over COVID
Stock photo.   (Getty/Rattankun Thongbun)

(Newser) – The US death toll on COVID is now more than 222,000, but a Harvard geneticist says the figure doesn't capture the full scope of the loss. In a new analysis, Stephen Elledge takes into account the ages of those who've died and calculates the number of years lost to the virus at 2.5 million. "Think of everything that a person does in a year," Elledge tells the New York Times. His analysis found that half of the victims in the US were under age 65. Related coverage:

  • A silver lining: Pretty much every metric shows that the pandemic "is getting worse again, all across America," per Axios. The US is averaging 59,000 new cases a day, the most since August and a 15% increase over last week. But while cases are rising, the death rate is not. One new peer-reviewed study says hospitalized patients have a 7.6% chance of dying, a big improvement from 25.6% in the pandemic's early days, reports NPR. Still, 7.6% is a higher risk than the flu and other diseases.

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  • Scathing report: A study out of Columbia University gives a bleak report card to the White House on the pandemic. The key line making headlines, including at the Daily Beast: "Through comparative analysis and applying proportional mortality rates, we estimate that at least 130,000 deaths and perhaps as many as 210,000 could have been avoided with earlier policy interventions and more robust federal coordination and leadership." It compares the US death rate to those of other nations, concluding that if the US followed Japan's polices, it could have had as few as 4,315 deaths. Even following the policies of hard-hit France would have resulted in about 162,000 deaths, saving more than 55,000 lives, say the researchers.
  • Worst state rise: The Upper Midwest is seeing a surge in cases, and North Dakota in particular. Cases there are increasing at a higher rate per capita (1,350 new cases per 1 million residents) than in any other state, reports the Guardian. The second-highest rate is in Wisconsin, at 805 new cases per 1 million residents. The seven-day average of new cases in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana has more than doubled in the past month.
  • Elsewhere: Cases are rising in Europe and elsewhere, too. On Thursday, Spain's health minister called the new wave sweeping his country "out of control" as Spain considered following France and other nations in reinstating curfews. On Wednesday, Spain became the first country in Western Europe to reach 1 million cases, reports Reuters. More than 34,000 people have died there.
(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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