National numbers, December 19

COVID-19 cases have increased sharply in New York City in the past week, to over 500 new cases for every 100,000 people city-wide. Chart via NYC Health, retrieved December 19.

In the past week (December 11 through 17), the U.S. reported about 860,000 new cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 122,000 new cases each day
  • 261 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 2% more new cases than last week (December 4-10)

Last week, America also saw:

  • 55,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals (17 for every 100,000 people)
  • 8,300 new COVID-19 deaths (2.5 for every 100,000 people)
  • 2.9% of new cases are Omicron-caused (as of December 11)
  • An average of 1.6 million vaccinations per day (including booster shots; per Bloomberg)

The Omicron surge has arrived in the U.S. While national COVID-19 cases are not significantly up from last week to this week, last week’s bump in the numbers from delayed Thanksgiving reporting has been replaced with a true increase, thanks to the combined pressures of both Delta and Omicron.

Hospitalizations are also increasing, with about 60,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 nationwide as of December 15—a 9% increase from the previous week. The number of Americans dying from COVID-19 each day is increasing as well, now at about 1,200 deaths a day.

Omicron’s impact feels particularly pronounced in New York City, where I live, as the city’s case rate more than doubled in the first two weeks of December. This past week, the city’s test positivity rate doubled in the span of three days. Yesterday, New York state reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases (about 22,000), with more than half of those cases reported in NYC.

To be fair, the case rates reported in NYC this week are probably lower than the true case rates during spring 2020, as testing wasn’t widely available during the city’s first COVID-19 surge. But on a personal level, this city’s current Omicron surge is undeniable: testing lines stretch around the block, and everyone from my old college friends to my local City Council representative is reporting a breakthrough case. I personally have yet to catch “the Media Variant,” but I’m rapid testing frequently and avoiding indoor activities as I prepare to visit my parents for Christmas.

Omicron was causing 13% of new COVID-19 cases in New York and New Jersey in the week ending December 11. By today, it’s likely causing the majority of new cases. But the NYC region isn’t the only part of the country seeing rapid case increases: Hawaii, Florida, Connecticut, Maine, and D.C. have all reported more than a 30% increase in cases from the previous week to this one, according to the latest Community Profile Report. Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and other Northern states have the highest cases per capita.

Vaccines, particularly booster shots, can protect against this dangerous variant (more on that later in this issue). While 61% of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, less than 30% have received booster doses. This includes about 53% of Americans over 65, even though seniors were one of the first groups become eligible for boosters—and are among those most in need of this additional protection.

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