December is now the deadliest month of the pandemic

Each month added to the country’s tragedy, and December began with 259,697 dead since the pandemic’s beginning. On December 23, the total was 317,513. That puts the total deaths reported so far this month at 57,683—over April’s record, with another week left in the year, during which the country is likely to record more than 10,000 additional deaths…

And hospitalizations, the most stable indicator of the pandemic’s reach and severity, are still increasing, though not as drastically as at the beginning of the month. In the Midwest, after a massive increase in October and November, hospitalizations have actually been declining at an encouraging rate—after peaking at 28,899 on December 1, the figure is now down to 23,229. In the Northeast, the recent growth in hospitalizations is slow.. In the past week, hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses have been administered. It is possible, though not certain, that this month will also mark a turning point in the pandemic—a peak of cases and hospitalizations to which the country never returns.

But while the Midwest may be reining in the virus, the current upward trend in hospitalizations is being driven by the South and West, and even within those regions, by certain states.