Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. have reached the highest level since early last year, eclipsing daily averages from the recent Delta-fueled surge, after the newer Omicron variant spread wildly through the country and caused record-shattering case counts.

The seven-day average for newly reported Covid-19 deaths reached 2,188 a day by Monday, up about 1,000 from daily death counts two months ago, before Omicron was first detected, data from Johns Hopkins University show. While emerging evidence shows Omicron is less likely to kill the people it infects, because the variant spreads with unmatched speed, the avalanche of cases can overwhelm any mitigating factors, epidemiologists say.

“You can have a disease that is for any particular person less deadly than another, like Omicron, but if it is more infectious and reaches more people, then you’re more likely to have a lot of deaths,” said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality-statistics branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. saw the highest numbers of deaths in the pandemic about a year ago, before vaccines were widely available, when the daily average reached 3,400. More recently, the Delta variant triggered a peak just above 2,100 in late September. Omicron has since muscled Delta aside and now accounts for nearly every known Covid-19 case, the CDC has estimated. The seven-day death average last topped the current level in February 2021, as the U.S. recovered from last winter’s surge.... Read More: WSJ