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Caution, Not Fear: The COVID Death Rate Has Plunged Since April, but Hospitalizations Are Spiking Again

Doctor Interview

Hospitals across the nation are pushed to the limit due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Things are particularly bad in Utah and parts of the Midwest.  

In El Paso, Texas, the situation is so dire residents face a mandatory 10:00 p.m. curfew to blunt the impact. El Paso's largest hospital has prepared for the worst by erecting overflow tents in the parking lot in case there aren't enough beds inside to handle a possible influx of patients.  

Nationwide, 42,000 people have been hospitalized this week. In Texas, that number surpasses 5,000 – almost double what it was last month. 

Texas physician Craig DeLisi told CBN News he's concerned about the rise in hospitalizations.

"I think as we see an increase there unfortunately I think we're going to see an up-tick in deaths as well," he said. 

Dr. DeLisi said one reason for the increase in cases and hospitalizations is the cooler weather, which drives people inside where the disease is more easily spread. Also, after seven months of practicing mitigation efforts,  people are simply tired of wearing maskings and keeping their distance from others.  

"Just a general fatigue of people from a caution standpoint," he said. "Masks are a mixed bag of peoples' responses. More people would rather leave them than take them and as that happens, naturally we're going to see more people infected."

Therefore, the doctor prescribes caution, but no fear.

"We're commanded not to be anxious about anything," he said. "In Philippians, it tells us with prayer and thanksgiving to present our requests to God and he promises the peace of God will rule our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 

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While a lot of attention is focused on increased infections in some places, one often overlooked statistic is the drastic reduction in death rates, a reported 80% since April.  

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.S. death rate now stands at 2.6%, lower than 14 other countries in Europe, South America and the Middle East.  

Six months ago, patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the US faced a 25% chance of death. Now doctors are seeing a much lower death rate of 7% among those hospitalized with the virus.

"Praise the Lord for that," said Dr. DeLisi, "There are two reasons for that. One is a better understanding of the disease and the second is better therapeutics."

That includes the anti-viral medication Remdesivir which blocks the replication of the virus. On October 22, 2020, it became the first drug to be approved by the FDA to treat COVID-19. In clinical trials, the drug demonstrated an ability to hasten recovery from the virus. 

Dexamethasone is another widely used drug that has proven effective in treating COVID-19.  The steroid medication has been given Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA and is used to calm the often deadly "cytokine storm," the over-reaction of the immune system caused by massive inflammation. 

Both Remdesivir and Dexamethasone were given to President Trump after he was diagnosed with COVID-19. 

One of the most highly touted drugs given to the president, a polyclonal antibody made by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron, isn't yet available to the general public, but the FDA could issue an Emergency Use Authorization in the months ahead. President Trump is one of only a couple of hundred people to be given the drug on a Compassion Use basis. The drug stimulates a robust immune response to the virus.

In the meantime, hospitals are now using a similar treatment, convalescent plasma, which is antibody-rich blood donated by people who have survived COVID-19.

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