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On Tuesday, the single-day coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 1,000 for the first time since May 29, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
Since the middle of June, when cases began to spike again following early reopenings in many states, death totals remained relatively low, thanks in part to the phenomenon of younger people transmitting the virus. (In Florida, the median age of a coronavirus patient dropped from 65 in March to 39.5 by mid-July.) But as caseloads continued to surge into July, deaths crept back up as well. As Reuters reports, “There were more than 5,200 U.S. COVID-19 deaths in the week [of] July 19, up 5 percent from the previous seven days.” It was the second week in a row of rising deaths.
Public-health experts anticipated the trajectory, as well as the delay. “Today’s cases represent infections that probably happened a week or two ago,” Boston University epidemiologist Eleanor Murray told Vox in early July. “Today’s deaths represent cases that were diagnosed possibly up to a month ago, so infections that were up to six weeks ago or more.”
The geography of COVID-19 fatalities has changed dramatically since the apex of daily deaths in April, when over 2,100 Americans were killed by the virus on April 11. Three months ago, the bulk of deaths were occurring in New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. According to New York Times data, 40 percent of newly reported deaths in recent weeks have occurred in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. In the past week, Texas and Florida have experienced a new record in average daily new deaths six out of seven days, with the current highs registering at 118.57 and 113.5.
In a rare — and most likely temporary — moment of solemnity, President Trump said in his revived coronavirus press briefing that the pandemic “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.” Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bolstered that diagnosis, determining that even the hardest-hit areas of the country, like New York City, are not close to reaching herd immunity.