There is some good news about the Omicron strain of Covid-19, and on reflection, there is also some news that is surprising, says virus expert Doctor Michael Osterholm on the most recent episode of his podcast. The great news is that the Covid virus has reached its peak in some states (although it continues to increase in others). The surprising news is the Covid deaths that are continuing daily, which is so high Osterholm says it is “difficult to comprehend.” The expert suggests the best way to protect yourself from it, and offered some predictions and a word of caution about the coming weeks and months of the Covid pandemic.
1 — “We are Far From Where We need to Be”
“Despite some signals of declines in overall United States cases and hospitalizations, we remain in a precarious position in several states,” says Osterholm. He said that on Tuesday, the average daily cases were just over 652,000, compared to 807,000 on January 14. “Yes, it is an improvement, but there is clearly a lot of virus still going around in the U.S. And these are only the Covid cases that are being reported and confirmed. So, it is only a fraction of the real number.”
“Meanwhile, there are still almost 149,000 Americans that have been hospitalized with COVID-19. As of today, this decreased from a high of 158,000 hospitalizations from last Thursday. So, there are some signs of improvements in this area are happening. However, compared to the prior all-time high of 133,000 hospitalizations that was set during last year’s Covid surge, we are far from where we need to be.”
2 — “Hard to Comprehend” Deaths Are Rising
As of Tuesday, an avg. of 2,400 Americans are still dying from COVID every day. That is higher than the peak of the country’s first surge of the virus in April 2020 (2,200 deaths each day).
“Considering that vaccines were mostly a non-factor at that time of last year’s surging virus numbers, it is so hard to comprehend the position we have found ourselves in,” says Osterholm. “Just think—based on Tuesday’s Covid numbers, the nation is reporting a death relating top COVID every 37 seconds.”
3 — COVID Deaths Now are now Outnumbering Those From Heart Disease, Cancer
He added: “This means that in just an hour’s time, we could expect an additional 100 Americans to have died from COVID-19. For even more context, an avg. of just over 1,900 Americans die every day from heart disease and 1,650 die every day from cancer. These have been the top two causes of death in the U.S for a while. Right now… this virus is far ahead of them.”
“I am not sure what number the Covid deaths will reach,” says Osterholm. “I think we could expect this number to keep growing.”
4 — How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end the pandemic, no matter where you happen to live—get vaccinated soon; if you live in a region with lower vaccination rates, try to wear a face mask, do not travel unless you have to, social distance, avoid larger crowds, do not go indoors with people you are not living with, practice better hand hygiene.