In the past week (February 28 through March 6), the U.S. reported about 417,000 new cases, according to the COVID Tracking Project. This amounts to:
- An average of 60,000 new cases each day—comparable to the seven-day average for daily cases in early August
- 127 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
- 1 in 786 Americans getting diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past week
Last week, America also saw:
- 41,400 people now hospitalized with COVID-19 (13 for every 100,000 people)
- 12,100 new COVID-19 deaths (3.7 for every 100,000 people)
- An average of 2.2 million vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)
The U.S. recorded fewer new daily cases this week than last week, finally dropping to a level lower than the summer surge. We saw fewer hospitalized COVID-19 patients and deaths from the disease this week as well. But the possibility of a plateau—or even a variant-driven fourth surge—is worrying some experts. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has cited this concern in press briefings over the past week, encouraging that Americans “double down on prevention measures.”
Dr. Walensky’s assertion is backed up by a new CDC report that links mask mandates and dining restrictions to reduced community spread. (We knew this already, of course, but it’s always nice to have a CDC report you can cite.)
Variants, meanwhile, continue to spread. We’re up to 2,600 reported B.1.1.7 cases, though this and other variant counts are likely significantly underreported. Nature’s Ewen Callaway calls attention to variant reporting issues in a recent story: despite national efforts to ramp up sequencing, the practice is still heavily decentralized in the U.S., with heavily-resourced states like New York and California sequencing thousands of genomes while other states collect far fewer. And “homegrown” variants of concern, such as the variant reportedly spreading through New York City, don’t even appear on the CDC’s dashboard yet.
But vaccinations give us one place to be optimistic. More than two million Americans are now getting a dose each day, per Bloomberg, with the first Johnson & Johnson shots landing on the market this week. After the announcement of a cross-pharma partnership (Merck giving J&J a manufacturing boost), President Biden said that the U.S. will have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May. How quickly—and how equitably—those doses get administered will be another battle.
Finally, a sad acknowledgment: with the COVID Tracking Project concluding data collection today, I will be switching my source for these updates starting next week. I plan to use CDC and HHS data, relying heavily on the CDC’s new COVID Data Tracker Weekly Reviews. More on filling the CTP-shaped hole in your data in the next section.