The U.S. surpassed 900,000 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, as the country deals with the after-effects of record spread caused by the highly contagious omicron variant.
But, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the daily case rate is falling following the spread of omicron, the number of deaths caused by the recent outbreak continues to climb.
It's been about six weeks since the U.S. surpassed 800,000 COVID-19 deaths in December. Since then, the average daily death toll has risen to more than 2,000 a day — a level not seen since last February.
Trends in COVID-19 deaths tend to trail behind trends in COVID-19 cases, so the daily death rate will likely fall in the weeks ahead. But hospitals in some parts of the country remain overwhelmed with patients sick with the virus.
The tragic milestone comes a year after the initial distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. According to the CDC, 80% of those eligible for a vaccine in the U.S. have gotten at least one shot.
While the omicron variant has shown some resistance to vaccines compared to past variants, the shots are still extremely effective in preventing severe infection or death. According to a recent study released by the CDC, between Dec. 25 and Jan. 8, unvaccinated people were 23 times more likely to be sent to the hospital with omicron than those who were fully vaccinated and boosted.
According to a database kept by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. continues to lead the world in both deaths and total cases of the virus. Brazil (630,000) and India (500,000) are the only other countries that have recorded more than half a million COVID-19 deaths.