Coronavirus: US COVID-19 death toll tops 650,000

The cumulative U.S. death toll associated with the coronavirus surpassed 650,000 early Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

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The latest figures, which include 1,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, indicate 650,697 Americans have died of the virus to date, representing roughly 14% of the more than 272,000 virus-related deaths reported globally.

Meanwhile, the 32,190 COVID-19 deaths confirmed nationwide in the past 28 days represent nearly 12% of the global total recorded during the same four-week period, according to the tally.

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According to The Washington Post, national COVID-19 deaths hit a seven-day average of about 1,500 a day one week ago, after plummeting to the low 200s in early July, due primarily to a surge in infections caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

The highly transmissible delta variant appears to have “exploited the return to everyday activities by tens of millions of Americans, many of them unvaccinated,” the Post reported.

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Despite the current uptick in virus-related deaths, the seven-day average of daily deaths is only about one-third of the peak recorded in January but is forecast to continue increasing as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Meanwhile, growing vaccination rates and natural immunity appear to be keeping virus-related fatalities in check despite a surge in diagnosed infections. That trend also appears to split along a north-south divide, with only three of the 14 U.S. states experiencing the highest death rates - Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming - located above the Mason-Dixon line, the Post reported.

By contrast, the seven states averaging two or fewer daily deaths include Vermont, Alaska, Rhode Island, the Dakotas, Maine and New Hampshire, as well as Washington, D.C., the majority of which boast high vaccination rates, statistically significant rates of natural immunity from prior pandemic waves, or both, the newspaper reported.

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