Virginia Tech biostatistician Ron Fricker, an expert on disease surveillance, shares the following thoughts to accompany a new research article by Virginia Commonwealth University scientists in the Journal of the American Medical Association, noting that COVID-19 has again become the leading cause of death in the United States. (Fricker was not involved in the publication.) 

Quoting Fricker:

“In the United States, we seem to have become numb to the ever-increasing COVID-19 death toll. Dr. Woolf and his co-authors help to remind us that the impact of this pandemic is severe and continuing.”

“In July, COVID-19 was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States as measured by the total number of deaths. By October it became the third leading cause. COVID-19 now kills more Americans every day than any other cause.”

“I still vividly remember the shock of losing almost 3,000 people on September 11th. We are now having a 9/11-like event every day. We should not let this become the new normal.”

“The end of this pandemic is in sight. With the new vaccines, COVID-related deaths are becoming avoidable tragedies. We must redouble our efforts to follow all public health guidelines until everyone is vaccinated and we are past this pandemic.”

About Fricker

Ron Fricker is a professor of statistics at Virginia Tech with research focused on the performance of various statistical methods for use in disease surveillance, and statistical process control methodologies more generally. He is the co-author of "Monitoring the Health of Populations by Tracking Disease Outbreaks: Saving Humanity from the Next Plague,” which was published earlier in 2020. View his bio.

Previous tip sheets with Fricker: 

— New JAMA reports highlight 'striking' number of deaths from COVID-19, says biostatistics expert
— Experts: Avoid large gatherings —especially those outside households — during holiday season
— Biostatistics expert: ‘We’re not testing as much as we should be’ for COVID-19's spread