COVID-19 Now Third Leading Cause of Death in US
COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., said former Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.
It has been eight months since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country. Yet, it has already come to the point of being the leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer.
"COVID is now the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S. - ahead of accidents, injuries, lung disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and many, many other causes," Frieden told CNN on Monday.
The other causes of death that Frieden listed have been around for some time now. COVID-19, on the other hand, had only been around for less than a year but had already killed more people.
Having the disease as the third leading cause of death in the country has been a matter of concern for many. According to John Hopkins data, novel coronavirus has already infected over 5.4 million Americans and killed over 170,000.
New York Times data shows that the U.S. has been recording over a thousand COVID-19 deaths per day, on average, for the past three weeks.
Frieden added that the rate of deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. is also much higher than anywhere else in the world. "Last week, Americans were eight times more likely to get killed by COVID than were Europeans," Frieden said.
COVID-19 Spreads Rampantly
As more students are heading back to school, health experts are getting more worried about a possible trend: less testing with high test positivity.
Data from the COVID Tracking Project has shown that the number of tests performed each day in the country has dropped by an average of 68,000 compared to the daily rate in late July. There are also 15 states that had fewer tests this week than last week.
Positivity rates are also still higher than the 5% that the World Health Organization recommends, reported The Hill.
Dr. William Haseltine, chairman and president of ACCESS Health International, said the U.S. testing situation is "not good."
"What we're not picking up is people who are contagious," said Dr. Haseltine said. He added that with decreases in testing, health officials are likely to miss most people who can spread the virus.
Less COVID-19 Testing
As for the lower number of tests done per day, medical experts have several reasons.
Haseltine said one of the reasons is because supplies don't get shipped to places that can tests. "I think it's part of a strategy not to count how many people are infected," he said.
One more reason is that people are not motivated to get tested. As tests take several days or longer to have results, the delays can make some tests "borderline useless." This is especially true to essential workers, mostly Latinos, who get higher exposure to the virus on a daily bases.
Dr. Kent Sepkowitz said that even as rates are getting worse, states are finding fewer cases, making the case numbers go down. "As a result, by looking less, they are finding fewer cases, and sure enough, the case numbers are going down," he said.
Medical experts are also worried that minorities like Latino people will not trust a vaccine once it becomes available. Latinos are not getting enough representation in COVID-19 vaccine trials, and health officials are worried they might react differently to a vaccine.
If they have a hard time trusting the vaccine development, they might still suffer mainly from the virus, and cause more deaths within their community. Lack of diversity in trials will also not be representative of those affected by COVID-19.
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