Image via Shutterstock
Image via Shutterstock

The U.S. surpassed the 150,000 death mark, and on Wednesday, one person died from COVID-19 for every minute.

The world’s largest coronavirus outbreak—right here in the United States—continues to worsen at an alarming rate. Not only are Americans increasingly getting sick and dying, they’re facing historic economic downfalls, food insecurity, and historic unemployment. 

While the pandemic is being politicized, it’s a public health crisis first. Here are 10 essential non-political developments you should know happened this week, in no particular order: 

The United States has surpassed 150,000 deaths. 

The country reached a grim milestone of 150,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, the deadly disease spread by the novel coronavirus. However, the number may be a low count compared to a true death toll for those who died early in the pandemic and weren’t included. 

One person died from COVID-19 for every minute on Wednesday.

As coronavirus infections continue to spread widely, the death rate is also increasing, as that data generally lags weeks behind documented cases. The seven-day moving average of daily deaths passed 1,000—the first time the country has hit that milestone since early June. And at 1,461, the U.S. recorded one COVID-19 death for every minute on Wednesday. 

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New York is no longer the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. 

California, Florida, and Texas surpassed New York, the original epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., as the leading states with the most confirmed coronavirus cases. According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 database, California is nearing 500,000 cases as Florida and Texas lead behind, all higher than New York’s count of more than 418,000 cases. 

School closures in the spring saved lives. 

Pediatric researchers published a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggesting that more than a million lives were saved with the closure of U.S. schools in the beginning of the pandemic. According to the paper,  canceling school “may have been associated with approximately 1.37 million fewer cases of COVID-19 over a 26-day period and 40,600 fewer deaths over a 16-day period.” 

However, the researchers added that their work shouldn’t be included in discussions on reopening schools this fall because there were no precautions—like masking or social distancing—imposed in the spring. 

Long-term effects of COVID-19 include heart damage. 

In another recent study published in JAMA, German scientists found further evidence confirming that COVID-19 is affecting the heart long after a person covers from the initial effects of the illness.  The MRIs of 100 healthy adults were examined more than two months after the patients got sick, and the results showed a majority had either structural changes to their heart, inflammation, or possible cardiac injuries. In another study, the autopsy results of 24 out of 39 people found a strong presence of the virus in their hearts. 

The world’s largest vaccine trial is underway. 

An experimental vaccine created by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna is currently being tested on 30,000 volunteers in the U.S., making it the largest coronavirus vaccine trial in the world. Participants will get two doses of either the vaccine or a placebo, and report their experiences over the next few months. More than 150,000 Americans have expressed interest in participating in a vaccine trial, which bodes well for other upcoming tests.  

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing for when a vaccine is ruled effective and safe for humans. “We stand ready for using emergency use authorization in an appropriate setting,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said this week. 

The U.S. economy contracted the most in recorded history.

The economy’s output fell 9.5% from April to June, clearly marking the lack of consumer spending during the beginning of the pandemic. It’s the worst economic drop ever calculated since U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) levels were recorded beginning in 1947. The Washington Post also reported it was the worst economic quarter since 1875, according to other data. 

Food insecurity is rising. 

The U.S. Census Bureau reported the highest number of Americans struggling with getting enough food to eat since it started its Household Pulse Survey in May. Last week, 23.9 million Americans shared in the weekly U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey that they had “sometimes not enough to eat.” Another 5.49 million said they had “often not enough to eat.”

Unemployment rises for a second week in a row.

About 1.4 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday, marking yet another increase in the national unemployment crisis. The country saw claims rise for the first time in 16 weeks, showing that the economic downfall fueled by the pandemic is far from over.

The first dog in the U.S. who tested positive for COVID-19 has died. 

Buddy, a German shepherd who tested positive for coronavirus in New York, passed away in early July. The National Geographic reported that the dog’s family found out the dog was also sickened with lymphoma, a type of cancer, at the time of death. Veterinarians say it is unlikely the dog died due to COVID-19, but so little is known about the new coronavirus that it could still be a factor in Buddy’s death. 

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