National numbers, May 1

On the left, the CDC’s current Community Levels indicate that 90% of the U.S. is in a “low risk” region. On the right, the CDC’s old Transmission Levels indicate that only 15% of the country is in a “low risk” region.

In the past week (April 23 through 29), the U.S. reported about 370,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 53,000 new cases each day
  • 113 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 25% more new cases than last week (April 16-22)

In the past week, the U.S. also reported about 13,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This amounts to:

  • An average of 1,900 new admissions each day
  • 4.0 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
  • 19% more new admissions than last week

Additionally, the U.S. reported:

  • 2,300 new COVID-19 deaths (0.7 for every 100,000 people)
  • 97% of new cases are Omicron BA.2-caused; 29% BA.2.12.1-caused (as of April 23)
  • An average of 80,000 vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)

Nationwide, new COVID-19 cases have increased in the U.S. for the fourth week in a row. The daily case average has doubled since early April, and that’s just the cases that we’re reporting; with less PCR testing availability and more people using at-home tests, we have very limited visibility into this current uptick.

New hospital admissions, a more reliable metric than cases, have also continued to rise this week. U.S. hospitals reported about 13,200 COVID-19 patients admitted this week, up from under 10,000 in the first week of April.

Wastewater data similarly continue to indicate increased coronavirus spread. The Northeast is still in a high plateau, according to Biobot’s dashboard, while other parts of the country are reporting upticks.

This mirrors the reported case data: Northeast states Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts reported the highest case rates in the week ending April 27, according to the latest Community Profile Report. But states in the South and West, such as North Carolina and Nebraska, reported the sharpest increases.

Almost one-third of new cases were caused by the BA.2.12.1 subvariant in the week ending April 23, according to the CDC’s latest estimates. This version of Omicron, first identified by the New York state health department, is even more transmissible than BA.2. It’s causing more than half of cases in the New York and New Jersey region, the CDC estimates.

Despite all of these concerning signals, the vast majority of the country seems unaware that we are in a new COVID-19 spike. Indeed, I’m writing this from the plane back to New York City, on which I’m one of few mask-wearers.

And I can’t really blame my fellow travelers for their lack of awareness: if you just look at the CDC’s Community Level map—as the agency recommends people do—you’d think that the whole country is in a green, low-risk zone. The agency’s old guidance, with more stringent, case-based thresholds, paints a very different picture.

The U.S. has “reached the choose-your-own-adventure stage of the pandemic,” as Maryn McKenna put it in a recent WIRED article. We’re taking “individual responsibility” to a whole new level.

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