The U.S. has been the worst hit by COVID-19 infections, but new data shows that we have more to worry about. Almost a year since the United States reported its first positive case, the country has now recorded a shocking 400,000 death toll. John Hopkins University reports that the United States accounts for 4 percent of the world’s population but is responsible for more than 19 percent of COVID-19 deaths globally. Recently, it reported the highest number of deaths in a single day – an astounding 4,327. All daily tallies, whether of new infections or deaths, saw a spike in 2021. A week into the new year, the U.S. was averaging more than 3,300 deaths every day with more than 3 million new infections reported in the first 13 days of the year.
Data from the COVID Tracking Project reveals that over 1,31,300 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19. This has overwhelmed the already burdened health care system, with many hospitals across the country reaching breaking point.
College towns are also seeing a spike in infections as full-time students returned to campus for the first semester of 2021. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a quarter of the population in 30 U.S. counties comes from students enrolled in higher education institutes. In counties like Oktibbeha County, home to Mississippi State University, almost all ICU beds at hospitals are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Public research institute William and Mary at Williamsburg, Virginia reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in the county tripled over a week.
While the incoming Biden administration promises to meet this national health crisis head-on, health experts say we shouldn’t underestimate the power of individual action. The CDC continues to advocate that Americans practice social distancing, avoid crowds, wear masks in public, and wash their hands with soap and water frequently.