COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is now the third-highest cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer, CNN reported. Months ago, forecaster predicted that this would happen.
On Monday, the U.S. had recorded 5.4 million infections and 170,000 deaths from the deadly pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. By comparison, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., prior to this year, was accidents, claiming just over 169,000 Americans in 2017, the most recent year for which data was available. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming 647,457 American lives in 2017, followed closely by cancer, with 599,108.
The prediction that the COVID-19 pandemic would move into that position was made earlier this month by multiple health experts. As Healthline reported at the time, the CDC predicted that, by late August, 11,000 Americans would be dying each day from the deadly illness.
"It's stunning. This is the most striking demographic change since HIV/AIDS," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, said at the time.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also noted the juxtaposition of American COVID-19 deaths with those in Europe, which, early on in the pandemic, was the hardest-hit region in the world.
"Last week, Americans were eight times more likely to get killed by Covid than were Europeans," he said.
Meanwhile, looking forward, the same model that predicted that the disease that didn't exist a year ago would soon become a leading killer of Americans predicts a staggering death toll: based on current projections, researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington are forecasting that 230,000 Americans could be dead of the disease by Nov. 1.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, that very same model predicted that 300,000 Americans could die of the disease by the end of this year. However, it also found that, if widespread mask-wearing was adopted, that number could be cut by 70,000.
Meanwhile, one key to mitigating the toll wrought by the pandemic, health officials say, is impressing upon young people the need to practice social distancing and other measures intended to reduce the spread of the virus. However, it appears that they don't seem to be getting the message, as already outbreaks are popping up at colleges and universities.