The recent improvement could prove short-lived if cases in the U.S. continue to surge, public-health experts say, although they haven’t modeled exactly what that could look like. Death rates will likely climb again as patients overwhelm hospitals, straining their capacity and staff and lowering quality of care, they say. The U.S. has now topped 12.4 million confirmed cases, and hospitalizations have hit several record highs.
“When cases go up, as they are here and in Europe, hospitals get overcrowded and death rates rise,” said Florian Krammer, a professor of vaccinology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Death rates can change depending on the availability of health-care resources, such as hospital beds and staffing in an area. That, along with the location’s patient demographics, explains why rates vary from place to place, he and other experts say.