A nurse wears personal protective equipment (PPE) while she cares for a Covid-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Tarzana, California on January 3, 2021. | Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images
Nearly 4,000 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the US on the day of the Capitol siege.
There were 3,964 Covid-19 deaths reported on Wednesday, according to the New York Times’s database. The US is now averaging about 2,700 deaths daily over the last seven days. In total, 361,383 Americans have died in the pandemic.
Every important Covid-19 metric — cases, deaths, and hospitalizations — is at or near its record high in the waning days of the Trump administration.
Covid Tracking Project
Charts showing Covid-19 metrics since April 2020.
Despite the rollout of two vaccines, the death totals are going to continue to climb alongside hospitalizations. Public health experts have said they expect the holiday season to continue to take a heavy toll, the full extent of which will take several weeks to be seen in the numbers. A new, more contagious variant of SARS-Cov-2 has arrived, cropping up in states across the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Director Robert Redfield warned at the beginning of December that the US could see as many as 450,000 Covid-19 deaths by February. Yet there’s been no significant federal mobilization to combat the surge.
Public health experts point the finger squarely at the White House, as well as state leaders, to explain the record-breaking Covid-19 numbers being reported across the country.
“It’s really from my perspective because of failed leadership at the state and federal level that we’re in the position we’re in,” Harry Heiman, a clinical professor at Georgia State University, told me this week.
President Trump has barely commented on the pandemic since Election Day, while fomenting discontent over his electoral loss that led to Wednesday’s siege at the Capitol. Meanwhile, the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines that could help end the pandemic has become a mess on his watch.
Heiman said his hope for turning the tide in the pandemic was President-elect Joe Biden bringing in an “A-team” and providing more resources to states for their Covid-19 response and vaccine efforts.
After the Democratic victories in the Georgia Senate runoffs, the other big event in this historic week, Biden should have a better chance of passing legislation to fund those efforts. Some additional funding for hospitals and local health agencies is already on the way, part of the second Covid-19 relief package that passed in December. Biden has said additional funding will be a top priority when he takes office.
But in the meantime, thousands of Americans will continue dying from Covid-19, as the US suffers the worst of the pandemic to date.