COVID-19 now leading cause of death in US topping heart disease, researchers say

Health officials warn pandemic will likely get worse

Latest update on pandemic in the US
Latest update on pandemic in the US

DETROIT – COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States topping heart disease, according to The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

IHME says COVID-19 was the cause of nearly 12,000 deaths last week, putting it ahead of ischemic heart disease and lung cancer.

As hospital beds fill up governors across the country are weighing new restrictions.

Health officials warn the pandemic will likely get worse. However, there is some hope on the horizon.

In northern California, people in five Bay Area counties are bracing for new COVID-19 stay at home orders taking effect Sunday night.

Read: Most of California to enter sweeping new virus lockdown

Health officials hope shutting down outdoor dining playgrounds and salons can quickly save lives.

“Until we get through this wave, you should not meet in person with anyone you do not live with, even in a small group, and even outdoors with precautions,” said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley California public health officer.

But the restrictions have business owners losing hope.

“Christmas time they come to get the nail beautiful for the holiday and we shut down again. We don’t know what we’re going to do for our financial,” said nail salon owner, Linda Nguyen.

With intensive care unit bed capacity dwindling, the stay at home orders could spread to central and southern California soon as well.

Americans are dying from COVID at a rate of nearly two people per minute.

The Food and Drug Administration could vote Thursday for Emergency Use Authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccine in the US from drugmaker Pfizer.

“As early as Friday of next week we could see vaccinations happening across the country,” said Dr. James Hildreth of the FDA advisory committee.

But experts say even if vaccinations start this week, it will be some time before everyone in the US can get one, and before life truly returns to normal.

But health officials warn things are bad now, and will get much worse without stronger efforts to stop the virus.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says she is waiting on more data from Thanksgiving to determine if the state’s three-week pause will be extended.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 395,036 as of Saturday, including 9,854 deaths, state officials report.

Saturday’s update represents 6,004 new cases and 193 additional deaths, including 145 deaths identified during a review of records -- meaning they did not occur between Friday and Saturday.

The state reported a total of 197,750 recoveries on Saturday.

More on the coronavirus in Michigan