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COVID cases declining from Omicron peaks, as U.S. draws closer to 900,000 deaths

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COVID-19 case rates are on the decline in some of the areas of the United States that were first impacted by the Omicron variant, but deaths continue to march higher toward 900,000.&nbsp;Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/40ff4661177f659168592e1ffcadba40/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
COVID-19 case rates are on the decline in some of the areas of the United States that were first impacted by the Omicron variant, but deaths continue to march higher toward 900,000. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- The United States is nearing 900,000 deaths as fatalities continue to rise despite falling case numbers.

Since the start of the pandemic, the United States has reported a total of 74,257,916 COVID-19 cases along with 883,993 deaths related to the virus, both the highest national totals in the world, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins.

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The seven-day average for daily new cases was 543,016 as of Saturday, down 32% compared with the previous seven-day average, while the seven-day average of daily new deaths has increased 11.7% to 2,265, according to tracking by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC listed the death toll at 879,071.

With 900,000 deaths seemingly around the corner, Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California, Irvine, told USA Today that the grim milestone of 1 million deaths related to the virus appears inevitable.

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"That will cause a lot of soul searching," Noymer said. "There will be a lot of discussion about what we could have done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable."

The CDC has also reported that the seven-day daily average for hospitalization admissions from Jan. 19-Jan. 25 was 19,315, down 8.8% from the previous seven-day average.

A total of 136,767 inpatient beds at about 6,040 hospitals nationwide are in use for COVID-19 patients, representing 17.9% of all inpatient beds in use, according to Department of Health and Human Services data. Overall 773,664 inpatient beds, or 77.69%, are in use at 6,167 reporting hospitals nationwide. The record was 160,113 Jan. 20.

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States on the East Coast, which were among the first to see spikes in cases brought on by the highly infectious Omicron variant have begun to see broad declines in case rates, with New Jersey reporting a seven-day average of 7,016 new cases, a 14-day decline of 70%, according to tracking by The New York Times.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told NBC News' Meet the Press that he was thankful to see cases go down and that the state must act preemptively to ensure testing and other resources are available for potential future surges but said managing the virus must become a part of daily life.

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"We're not going to manage this to zero. We have to learn how to live with this," he said. "Please God, there's not another significant wave. Every time you think you've got this thing figured out, it humbles you."

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Other states such as Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Louisiana have begun to see improvement with case averages dropping more than 40% over 14 days, while Montana is seeing record numbers as its seven-day new daily case average has risen 79% in the past 14 days. Kentucky, Idaho and Washington have also seen their daily averages rise 40%-55% in the past two weeks.

New York reported 8,781 cases Sunday, way down from a record 90,132 Jan. 8. But 202 fatalities were reported Saturday with 305 Tuesday.

To date, 249,892,470 people, or 75.3% of the total U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 211,695,131 people, or 63.8% of the population have completed their vaccine regimen, according to CDC data. Among those who have received a full vaccine course, 41.5% have received an additional booster dose.

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