What is the leading cause of death in the U.S.? It’s no longer heart disease

a technician works on COVID-19, now the leading cause of death in the us
Photo via Hospital CLÍNIC/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a report from University of Washington researchers.

NBC News noted on Dec. 4 that the school’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation made the ruling, based on 11,820 coronavirus-related deaths in the prior week compared to 10,724 for ischemic heart disease, which is the nation’s typical leading cause of death in any given week.

The researchers also noted that coronavirus-related deaths would finish second to heart disease for all of 2020, with tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer rounding out the top three. 

Though the researchers noted there was a projected peak in the number of COVID-19 deaths, that’s still to come with an expected mid-January tally of 3,000 deaths per day. By April 1, 2021, the researchers noted that the current American death toll, now nearing 280,000, could nearly double, reaching 539,000. 

The researchers also estimate that nearly 15% of all Americans have now been infected with COVID-19. 

CBS News, in its report on COVID-19’s new status as the leading cause of death in the U.S., wrote that 11 states broke new single-day cases, and the increasing number of hospitalizations is straining the healthcare system. 

The Centers for Disease Control, in its most recent website update for the week ending Nov. 28, pointed out, “The overall weekly hospitalization rate is at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic, with steep increases in adults aged 65 years and older.” 

“It’s one giant ball of anxiety trying to figure out where the next patient’s going to go,” Wisconsin respiratory therapist Donovan Boetcher told CBS.

“I feel like on social media, there’s a lot of talk of healthcare heroes and all that,” Boetcher added. “Well, if you really want to respect people in healthcare or anyone that has to work right now, stay home. Wear a mask.”

As of Dec. 7, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracking project, the U.S. led the world in total cases at nearly 15 million with more than 283,000 deaths. 

Sources: NBC News, CBS News, CDC, Johns Hopkins University

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