National numbers, February 6

COVID-19 cases are now on the decline almost everywhere in the U.S. (right), though they are still incredibly high throughout the country (left). Note that Tennessee appears (incorrectly) green on the left because of a data error. Chart from the February 3 Community Profile Report.

In the past week (January 29 through February 4), the U.S. reported about 2.6 million new cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 378,000 new cases each day
  • 806 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • One in 124 Americans testing positive for COVID-19
  • 38% fewer new cases than last week (January 22-28)

Last week, America also saw:

  • 112,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals (34 for every 100,000 people)
  • 17,000 new COVID-19 deaths (5.1 for every 100,000 people)
  • 100% of new cases are Omicron-caused (as of January 29)
  • An average of 300,000 vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)

Nationwide, new COVID-19 case numbers have decreased for the third week in a row. The country reported an average of 378,000 new cases each day last week—about half the daily case number reported at the peak of the Omicron surge three weeks ago.

Hospitalizations are also decreasing, with the HHS reporting about 115,000 inpatient beds used for COVID-19 patients as of February 5—down from a peak of over 150,000. Still, hospitals across the country continue to be overwhelmed as they deal with staffing shortages and limited drugs that work against Omicron compared to past variants.

National COVID-19 deaths passed 900,000 this week, according to the New York Times and other trackers. More than 2,000 Americans are dying of COVID-19 every day, and this trend is likely to continue as the Omicron surge wanes; as always, patterns in death data follow patterns in case data by several weeks.

New case rates are dropping in all 50 states and almost all territories, according to the latest Community Profile Report. States with the highest case rates this week include Alaska, North Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Tennessee: all reported at or above 1,200 new cases for every 100,000 people in the week ending February 2.

Remember, even though cases are going down, many parts of the country are still seeing far higher numbers than they did in previous surges. Even in New York City, now about a month past the peak of its Omicron surge, the city health department reported about 220 new cases for every 100,000 people last week—more than double the CDC threshold for high transmission. It’s important that we remain cautious until the numbers are truly low.

As Omicron continues to spread—and as the U.S. reported record cases in children this past January—Pfizer has announced it plans to ask the FDA to authorize its vaccine for children under age 5. The problem is: Pfizer’s clinical trial data have, so far, demonstrated that a two-dose vaccine series with a very small dosage is effective in the youngest kids (6 months to 2 years), but not in kids ages 2 to 5. COVID-19 experts are split on this rather complicated situation; you can find more details at Your Local Epidemiologist and at STAT News.

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