MIAMI (AP) — A young mother had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary and was one of six members of a Jacksonville church to die over a 10-day span.
Another Florida woman had just given birth to her first child, but was only able to hold the newborn girl for a few moments before dying.
A California man died a few weeks shy of his 53rd birthday while his wife was on a ventilator at the same hospital in Oakland, unaware of his passing on Aug. 4.
The COVID-19 death toll has started soaring again as the delta variant tears through the nation's unvaccinated population and fills up hospitals with patients, many of whom are younger than during earlier phases of the pandemic.
The U.S. is now averaging about 650 deaths a day, increasing more than 80 percent from two weeks ago and going past the 600 mark on Saturday for the first time in three months.
Data on the the age and demographics of victims during the delta surge is still limited, but hospitals in virus hotspots say they are clearly seeing more admissions and deaths among people under the age of 65.
Florida hospital officials are seeing an influx of young, healthy adults filling their wards across the state, many requiring oxygen. In the past week in Florida, 36% of the deaths occurred in the under-65 population, compared with 17% in the same week last year when the state was experiencing a similar COVID surge. Florida is the national leader in coronavirus deaths, averaging more than 150 a day in the past week.
The younger patients mark a shift from the elderly and frail, many living in nursing homes, who succumbed to the virus a year ago before states made seniors a priority to get inoculated first. More than 90 percent of seniors have had at least one shot, compared to about 70 percent for Americans under 65.
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Check out more of the latest virus updates:
- Warning of tough days ahead with surging COVID-19 infections, the director of the National Institutes of Health said Sunday the U.S. could decide in the next couple weeks whether to offer coronavirus booster shots to Americans this fall. Among the first to receive them could be health care workers, nursing home residents and other older Americans.
- Public forums before local school boards and city councils are the latest source of misinformation about COVID-19.
- Low-income countries were supposed to get COVID-19 vaccines through a shared international system instead of waiting at the back of the line for unreliable donations from rich countries.
- The U.S. could soon see more than 200,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day as the delta variant spreads at a rapid pace, particularly among unvaccinated people, the director of the National Institutes of Health predicted.
This story has been updated to correct that the hospital where McMullen died is in Melbourne, Florida, not West Melbourne.
Dazio reported from Los Angeles.