NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is some good news for a change about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The death rate for patients hospitalized with the virus seems to dropping significantly.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez has more on why this is happening and why the danger is still so great.

The overall death rate from COVID-19 has been dropping from a peak earlier this year, although recent spikes in cases may drive that up again. The overall rate is how many people who test positive for the coronavirus actually die, but if you’re hospitalized, that death rate is much higher, but also dropping.

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At the beginning of the pandemic, when we knew almost nothing about this new coronavirus, doctors tried almost anything to save people’s lives. That’s when the death rate for hospitalized patients peaked at about 25%. Since then, medical care has dramatically improved.

“Both with medicines, like steroids, but also just with general care. We don’t rush to put people on ventilators. We put people on their stomachs to breathe better. We know to watch out for complications like blood clots … and kidney failure,” said Dr. Leora Horwitz of the NYU Goodman School of Medicine.

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Horwitz studied the hospitalized patients in the NYU Langone Health System and found the death rate now dramatically reduced, to about 7.6%. That’s about the same as another study of patients hospitalized in England.

But improved medical care may not be the whole story.

“It’s probably also that our hospitals are not so crowded, and it’s, I think, also possible that because people are masking and staying distant, that even if they get infectious, infected, they get less of a dose of virus,” Horwitz said.

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Also helpful, the age range for hospitalized COVID-19 patients is also trending younger and healthier, possibly because young people are being less careful about social distancing and mask wearing.

And we’re starting to see a wide range of short- and long-term health issues in people who recover from their acute coronavirus infection. So, it’s not just about death rates.

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