Much of the country is living a post-pandemic lifestyle, but the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. In fact, some states are facing case rates worse than they did at this time last year – which, if you haven’t blocked it from your memory, were almost the highest they’ve ever been, leading up to the January peak.
Last December at this time, the U.S. was averaging about 211,000 cases per day. Currently, the country is averaging almost 122,000 new cases per day, according to the New York Times COVID Tracker. Needless to say, although COVID is still very much a problem, it’s much less of an issue than it was in December 2020, largely thanks to the widespread availability of vaccines. But in some states, COVID cases are higher now than they were at this point last year.
Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire are all currently facing their worst COVID spikes of the pandemic by far. Over the past few days, Vermont’s caseload has begun to decline, but it’s still much higher than it was last December. Michigan is in a similar situation; the state appears to be coming down from a surge similar in size to ones that it faced last November/December and this April.
A handful of other states are facing similar COVID rates as last December. Connecticut has about the same number of cases, although it’s experiencing a surge that could drive COVID case numbers over those from last December. Massachusetts is in a similar set of circumstances, although its surge appears to be leveling out.
Last December, Minnesota hit its winter surge peak of 7,052 cases per day on Nov. 20, earlier than most other states; the current case numbers are about the same as they were this time last year when the surge was ending. Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa are experiencing a similar pattern of case rates.
COVID cases are climbing in New York, mirroring the climbing cases from this point last year in both pattern and number.
Hawaii has a similarly low number of cases now compared to last year.
U.S. Surpasses 800,000 COVID Deaths
The U.S. reached 800,000 deaths from COVID on Dec. 15. Three-quarters of those deaths have been in adults aged 65 and older. Many of these deaths would have been prevented with greater uptake of the COVID vaccine.
A report from the Commonwealth Fund found that the COVID vaccines have saved 1.1 million lives in the U.S. as of November 2021. Without vaccines, U.S. deaths would have been more than three times higher, and hospitalizations would have been nearly five times as high as what the country experienced in 2021.
Without the vaccines, U.S. COVID deaths could have hit 21,000 per day, more than five times the peak record from January 2021 of more than 4,000 deaths per day. Only about 61 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated.