COVID deaths are finally falling

Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

COVID-19 cases have been falling across the U.S. for weeks — and now deaths are finally on the decline, too.

Why it matters: The Delta wave may truly be behind us, and though unvaccinated people in heavily unvaccinated areas will always remain at risk, getting the virus under control would allow the country as a whole to breathe a little easier this fall.

By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging roughly 102,000 new cases per day — a 22% drop over the past two weeks.

Deaths are also falling, by a nationwide average of about 13%. The virus is now killing roughly 1,800 Americans per day.Deaths had been rising for the past few weeks even as infections declined. That’s to be expected — deaths are the last number to go up when a new wave sets in, and the last to go down when that wave ebbs.

Context: A year ago, when no one was vaccinated and the worst wave of the pandemic was just getting started, experts were sounding the alarm because cases had crept up above 50,000.

To be sitting above 100,000 daily cases now, even after millions of Americans have been vaccinated or have some level of immunity from a previous infection, is a sign of just how transmissible the Delta variant is and how poorly the U.S. has contained it.And while some vaccinated people do get infected, almost none will die from those infections. But six months after every American adult became eligible for a vaccine, the virus’ death toll in the U.S. is still roughly equivalent to a 9/11 every two days.

The bottom line: The number of Americans contracting and dying from COVID-19 remains quite high, but things are moving in the right direction.

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