COVID-19 Fatality Rates Plunge As Treatments Improve, Doctors Learn More About Virus

The percentage of those dying from COVID-19 is plunging in most states across the country as doctors learn more about the virus and treatments improve.

Across the U.S., the case fatality rate (CFR) has been dropping for weeks — in some states for months. Despite breathless reports that hospitals have been overflowing and people dying in droves, the data doesn’t support the claims.

“In Arizona, about 5 percent of those who tested positive for the coronavirus by the end of May died. The case fatality rate now is about half that figure,” The Hill reported. “In California, the rate stood at 4 percent in late May, and is now 1.6 percent. In April, 7.5 percent of those who tested positive in Minnesota died, a rate that has fallen to 2.7 percent, according to The Hill’s analysis of state data.”

One reason the CFR is dropping because the people now contracting the virus are younger and healthier, so they’re more able to fight of the virus — which is highly contagious but often brings only mild, flu-like symptoms. Plus, testing for the virus, which is now widespread, is identifying the infected more quickly, which means they can get treatment.

At the height of the pandemic, which occurred in April, some of the worst affected were put on ventilators. “Now, some doctors said, fewer patients are being intubated, and the sickest patients are being treated with drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone, treatments that can help lower the risk of death,” The Hill reported.

Doctors are also using more basic methods like proning, in which patients lay on their stomachs. That method helps them access more of their lung capacity, preventing suffocation that comes with fluid buildup caused by pneumonia.

“I think we are getting better in treating COVID-19. The experience that’s been acquired over the past few months by those individuals who have been laboring with incredible determination and energy in ICUs have made it possible for the people who we were losing maybe back in March and April in the terrible outbreak in New York are now being saved,” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told The Hill in an interview. “There’s a better understanding now about how to keep people off of ventilators, unless you absolutely have to because of all the complications that ensue at that point.”

The virus’s main vectors of transmission have shifted, too. In March and April, outbreaks in assisted living facilities targeted older people who were more likely to have the underlying conditions that led to the worst outcomes.


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