The mortality toll from Covid-19 in the United States has surpassed 900,000, while Omicron's expansion slows.

Another concurrent aspect of the epidemic provides grounds for optimism. Since mid-January, the number of new coronavirus infections has dropped by more than half. In addition, hospitalizations are on the decline.
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Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith collaborated on this piece.

COVID-19 is killing over 2,600 Americans per day, an alarming pace that has risen by 30% in the last two weeks. More than 900,000 people have died as a result of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States.

Another concurrent aspect of the epidemic provides grounds for optimism. Since mid-January, the number of new coronavirus infections has dropped by more than half. Hospitalizations are also on the decline, which is welcome news for healthcare personnel who have been treating critically ill coronavirus patients for over two years.

All of this has led to a perplexing point in the pandemic: while mortality continues to rise, the virus's menace is receding into the background of many Americans' everyday lives for the time being.

Patrick Tracy of Mundelein, Illinois, has firsthand experience with the disconnect. New infections have decreased in his county in recent weeks as the highly contagious omicron type has begun to fade across the country. Tracy's wife, Sheila, died of COVID just as the case rates were declining. Sheila Tracy, an 81-year-old Irishwoman who loved her grandkids and the flowers she kept in her front yard, was vaccinated but had underlying medical issues.

"When you tell them approximately 900,000 people have died because they didn't get vaccinated, they reply, 'They would have died regardless,'" Tracy added. "We don't have much regard for our fellow man."

The omicron surge has unleashed a particularly powerful and swift wave of death throughout the United States. The country's per capita death rate remains higher than that of other developed nations, owing to significant anti-vaccine and anti-booster sentiment in the US. Hospital admissions in the United States were greater than in Western Europe during the omicron spike.

Throughout the fall and winter, the number of fatalities in the United States has increased. The most recent 100,000 fatalities had happened in less than 11 weeks when the United States hit 800,000 deaths in mid-December. In barely over seven weeks, the last 100,000 deaths — mainly from the omicron type — had been documented.

The fact that the 900,000th death occurred more than a year after vaccinations were originally approved added to the agony, according to Baltimore health commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa. Unvaccinated persons account for the great majority of fatalities, according to federal data.

"It's very terrible for me as a public health expert because I believe so many of the fatalities might have been avoided," Dzirasa said.

Deaths have been reported in huge numbers around the United States in the previous seven weeks, with particularly high rates in the Southwest and around the Great Lakes.

In December, before omicron became dominant, much of the Midwest, Northeast, and Southwest were already seeing huge outbreaks powered by the delta variety. Many of the most recent deaths in those areas might have been caused by delta.

When the omicron outbreak reached record levels a month ago, millions of Americans were out of work, coronavirus testing were hard to come by, and public health officials recommended caution as hospitals overflowed. As the situation has improved in recent weeks, the feeling of impending doom has faded.

Students returned to classrooms in Cleveland and Detroit, where public schools temporarily transferred instruction online due to omicron. In the coming weeks, municipal officials in Chicago indicated they would explore eliminating a regulation mandating immunization for indoor meals.

The new message is more upbeat about the next weeks while remaining grounded in reality. Officials say the country is entering a new phase of the pandemic, in which the virus danger will last eternally but most people will be protected from the worst effects by vaccines.

"In March, I'm going on a trip." Linda Vail, a health officer in Ingham County, Michigan, which encompasses the state capital of Lansing, remarked, "I feel quite comfortable re-engaging in life."

Vail expressed concern about the risks posed by unvaccinated persons, who continue to crowd hospital wards and die. She added it was vital to tolerate some amount of virus risk for individuals who have been vaccinated and boosted and do not have additional conditions that make them more sensitive.

"It's pretty difficult to convince some folks to come down from that degree of dread," she added

More than 300,000 new coronavirus cases are reported every day in the United States. That's down from more than 800,000 a day in the middle of January, but it's still more than any preceding surge's peak. More than 120,000 persons infected with the virus are being treated in hospitals around the country.

Because patients are sometimes unwell for weeks before dying and it might take several days to report those deaths, rises in fatalities have lagged behind surges in infections throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Though still lethal, the omicron version causes severe sickness less frequently than prior strains of the virus. Hospitalizations, however, reached new highs due to the sheer volume of cases – more than three times as many per day at the recent peak than in any preceding rise.

Even in areas like Montana and North Dakota, which were among the last to achieve an omicron peak, there is now near-universal improvement, with case numbers plummeting.

The recovery has been particularly noticeable in eastern cities that were impacted hard by omicron early on. On average, less than 300 cases are recorded each day in Cleveland county, down from 3,200 cases each day around Christmas. The number of cases in New York City is now about 3,500 per day, down from 40,000 just over a month ago. Some are calling for a return to fewer restrictions since the county that encompasses Chicago is averaging around 2,200 cases per day, down from 12,000 in mid-January.

The virus has often startled scientists, spiking when experts expected it to wane and evolving at rates that took them off guard at first. COVID-19, on the other hand, is widely expected to become an endemic illness.

COVID-19 is being treated as a common feature of life in certain regions faster than in others. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds stated on Thursday that COVID-19 emergency designations will expire later this month, and the state will reduce data reporting.

"The flu and other infectious illnesses are part of our daily lives, and coronavirus can be treated in the same way," said Reynolds, a Republican.

Since the coronavirus was first discovered in the United States more than two years ago, the country has rushed through previously unimaginable milestones: 1,000 deaths, 100,000 deaths, and 500,000 deaths. With 900,000 fatalities connected to the virus, the country has reached a new milestone.