COVID Deaths in September (Average 4,256) Were Near Lows Seen in June (Average 4,206)

By Susan Jones | November 17, 2020 | 10:36am EST
COVID cases are up, and so are hopitalizations, prompting a new round of restrictions in some localities. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
COVID cases are up, and so are hopitalizations, prompting a new round of restrictions in some localities. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

( - The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 138,025 new COVID cases in this country on Nov. 15, the 11th time in 12 days that new cases have reached six-digits.

The number of new deaths also rose in October and November, but it's too soon to tell how much, because the data for those months is incomplete. Death certificates, which produce the CDC's official COVID death toll, are submitted to CDC's National Center for Health Statistics on a lagging basis.

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics has been tracking weekly deaths involving COVID-19 since February.

An average of 4,256 people died of COVID in September, about the same as the average 4,206 who died in June. Those two months mark the low point so far for COVID deaths in this country.

According to NCHS, the 3,982 COVID-involved deaths for the week ending September 26 -- the most recent time period for which the data is fairly reliable -- is 76.69 percent below the mid-April peak, when 17,087 COVID deaths were reported; and 51.51 percent below the second peak of 8,213 COVID deaths in early August.

As the chart below shows, COVID deaths dropped every week from the mid-April record of 17,087 to 3,794 at the end of June.

In early July, COVID deaths started increasing again, to a second peak of 8,213 in early August; then the number of deaths steadily dropped to the 39-hundred level at the end of September.

Since then, preliminary data indicate COVID deaths are once again heading toward the 5,000 level or higher, but again, the numbers for recent weeks will rise more significantly than the death count for earlier weeks.

The total number of COVID cases in this country now stands at 10,984,398, or 46.2 per 100,000 people in the last seven days. A total of 245,470 COVID-involved deaths has been reported to CDC, or 0.4 deaths for every 100,000 people in the past 7 days.

Because of escalating cases and hospitalizations, the CDC is urging Americans to modify their Thanksgiving plans to minimize the spread of coronavirus.

"Unfortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic is worsening, and small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases," CDC said.

It offers several pages of advice on the lowest-risk way to celebrate:

--Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19).

CDC says people who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.

--Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering.

--Exposure during travel: Airports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.

--Location of the gathering; Indoor gatherings, especially those with poor ventilation (for example, small enclosed spaces with no outside air), pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.

--Duration of the gathering: Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires a 14-day quarantine.

--Number and crowding of people at the gathering: Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet (2 arm lengths) apart, wear masks, wash hands...

CDC said there is no evidence right now that handling food is associated with the spread of infection.

"It is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object, including food, food packaging, or utensils that have the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. However, this is not thought to be the main way that the virus is spread.

CDC says you should "encourage guests to bring food and drinks for themselves and for members of their own household only; avoid potluck-style gatherings.

It also says:

--Wear a mask while preparing food for or serving food to others who don’t live in your household.

--All attendees should have a plan for where to store their mask while eating and drinking. Keep it in a dry, breathable bag (like a paper or mesh fabric bag) to keep it clean between uses.

--Limit people going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen or around the grill, if possible.

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