The United States has exceeded 700,000 deaths from Covid-19 as the delta variant surge begins to slow.
It took the US three and a half months to jump from 600,000 to 700,000 deaths, driven by the rampant spread of the variant by unvaccinated Americans.
An estimated 70 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated and provide kindling for the variant.
Despite the rising death toll, there are signs of improvement.
Nationwide, the number of people who are now in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen from more than 93,000 at the beginning of September to around 75,000.
New cases are declining averaging about 112,000 per day, a decrease of about a third in the last two and a half weeks.
The number of deaths also appears to be declining, averaging around 1,900 a day, compared to more than 2,000 about a week ago.
The weakening of the summer wave has been attributed to wearing masks and vaccinating more people.
The drop in the number of cases could also be due to the virus being burned by susceptible people and running out of fuel in some places.
In another development, pharmaceutical company Merck said on Friday its experimental pill for people with Covid-19 had cut hospital stays and deaths by half.
When approved by regulators, it will be the first pill to treat Covid-19 – and an important, easy-to-use new weapon in the arsenal against the pandemic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s foremost infectious disease specialist, warned on Friday that some may see the encouraging trends as reasons to stay unvaccinated.
“It’s good news that the corners are slowly coming down,” he said. “This is not an excuse to refrain from compulsory vaccination.”
What is unknown is how the flu season can weigh on exhausted hospital staff and whether those who refused to get vaccinated will change their minds.
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