COVID-19 passed heart disease as leading killer in US last week, report says

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued guidance toward shortening quarantine after COVID-19 exposure. - NIAID/NIAID/TNS

COVID-19 killed more Americans last week than any other cause of death, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

At least 11,820 people died from coronavirus in the United States during the week ending Dec. 4, more than ischemic heart disease (10,724), tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer (3,965), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (3,766), according to the new report.

As of Sunday, more than 14.6 million Americans have tested positive so far, with at least 281,000 deaths reported.

But daily infections continue to skyrocket as many states have eased their lockdowns, reopening schools, restaurants and bars and even sporting events.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated peak infections under six different scenarios, including a universal mask mandate and a rapid vaccine rollout.

With a continued easing of social distancing, the U.S. could reach almost 800,000 deaths by April, while widespread mask usage could cut that number to about 500,000, according to the study.

A peak of almost 6,000 daily deaths and more than 1 million daily infections could hit around February if protocols continue to loosen.

President-elect Biden told CNN Thursday that one of his first acts after inauguration will be to ask Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his presidency, but stopped short of saying he would mandate it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new mask guidance Friday, calling for “universal mask wearing” outside of one’s own house.

“Consistent and correct use of face masks is a public health strategy critical to reducing respiratory transmission,” the CDC said in its new report. “Compelling evidence now supports the benefits of cloth face masks for both source control (to protect others) and, to a lesser extent, protection of the wearer.”

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