Story at a glance

  • The CDC’s national ensemble forecast estimates the U.S. will report a total of anywhere from 440,000-477,000 COVID-19 deaths by the week ending Feb. 6.
  • As of Friday, the U.S. had confirmed more than 23,000,000 total cases and 389,581 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
  • The first few weeks of the new year have been the deadliest of the pandemic yet.

The U.S. could tally more than 87,000 new coronavirus deaths over the next three weeks as the nation grapples with the deadliest phase of the pandemic, according to a projection from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC’s national ensemble forecast — an aggregate of dozens of independently developed forecasts — estimates the U.S. will report a total of anywhere from 440,000 to 477,000 COVID-19 deaths by the week ending Feb. 6. 


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As of Friday, the U.S. had confirmed more than 23,000,000 total cases and 389,581 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. More than 128,000 people across the nation are currently hospitalized and the seven day rolling average for new deaths is more than 3,200.

The grim projection from the CDC comes as the first few weeks of the new year have been the deadliest of the pandemic yet, with several days setting records. More than 40,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of January, with more than 4,000 new deaths reported on both Tuesday and Wednesday, according to The Covid Tracking Project.  

The official global death toll from the pandemic surpassed 2 million Friday, just more than a year after the first COVID-19 deaths was reported in Wuhan, China. 

Meanwhile, as vaccination efforts in the U.S. have lagged, the CDC sounded the alarm Friday about a more contagious variant of the coronavirus that is expected to become the dominant strain in the country by March. 

The strain, which was originally identified in the United Kingdom, is estimated to be roughly 50 percent more transmissible than the more common coronavirus strain. That means it could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths by infecting more people overall. 

So far, the variant has not shown to cause more severe illness or increase the risk of death. Health officials called for increasing mitigation efforts, like wearing masks and social distancing. 

The rise of the more contagious variant underscores the need to get vaccines into the arms of Americans. As of Friday, more than 12 million doses have been administered in the U.S. with more than 31 million distributed to states, according to the CDC. That’s a significant shortfall from the Trump administration’s estimate last year that 20 million people would receive the shot before the end of 2020. 


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Published on Jan 15, 2021