National numbers, Feb. 28

In the past week (February 21 through 27), the U.S. reported about 475,000 new cases, according to the COVID Tracking Project. This amounts to:

  • An average of 68,000 new cases each day—about 2,000 more cases than the seven-day average on July 27, near the peak of the summer surge
  • 145 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 1 in 692 Americans getting diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week
Nationwide COVID-19 metrics published in the COVID Tracking Project’s daily update on February 27. New daily cases are now at a level similar to the summer peak.

Last week, America also saw:

  • 48,900 people now hospitalized with COVID-19 (15 for every 100,000 people)
  • 14,300 new COVID-19 deaths (4.4 for every 100,000 people)
  • An average of 1.65 million vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)

After several weeks of declines, cases now appear to be in a plateau. But the COVID Tracking Project cautions that these numbers may also be the aftershocks of President’s Day and the winter storm, which led to artificially low numbers last week and delayed reporting arriving this week.

One thing is for certain, though: vaccinations are recovering from the storm. We had two record vaccination days Friday and yesterday, with 2.2 million doses and 2.4 million doses reported, respectively. Nearly one in five adults and half of American seniors have received their first shot, White House advisor Andy Slavitt said in a COVID-19 briefing on Friday.

Last week, we noted that vaccinations were already having an impact in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The Kaiser Family Foundation picked up that trend this week, with an analysis showing that deaths in these facilities have declined at the same time as residents have received vaccine doses. In the first month of America’s vaccine rollout, long-term care deaths decreased by 66%, while all other U.S. deaths increased by 61%.

We can’t get complacent, though. The U.S. has now reported over 2,100 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, up from 1,500 last week. Homegrown variants that originated in California and New York aren’t yet reported on the CDC’s variant cases dashboard, but I recommend reading up on them. B.1.526, the New York variant, may now account for one in four cases in NYC, per the New York Times; this variant has acquired a mutation that may make it less susceptible to vaccines.

Federal public health leadership cited variant cases in COVID-19 briefings this week, advising Americans to keep up all the public health measures that have become so familiar by now: wear a mask, avoid crowds and travel, and get a vaccine when it’s available to you.

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