National numbers, May 29

It’s not all mild cases: new COVID-19 hospital admissions have been rising at a similar rate to cases in the last couple of weeks. Chart via the CDC.

In the past week (May 21 through 27), the U.S. reported about 770,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 110,000 new cases each day
  • 234 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 8% more new cases than last week (May 14-20)

In the past week, the U.S. also reported about 25,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This amounts to:

  • An average of 3,600 new admissions each day
  • 7.7 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
  • 8% more new admissions than last week

Additionally, the U.S. reported:

  • 2,200 new COVID-19 deaths (0.7 for every 100,000 people)
  • 97% of new cases are Omicron BA.2-caused; 58% BA.2.12.1-caused (as of May 21)
  • An average of 70,000 vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)

America’s largely-ignored BA.2 surge continues: the U.S. reported over 100,000 new cases a day last week, while an average of 3,600 new COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals each day. Both of these metrics rose about 8% from the week prior.

Of course, as I am frequently reminding everyone these days, current case numbers are a drastic undercount of actual infections, thanks to at-home testing and increasingly-fractured PCR access. Our current surge might actually be the country’s “second-largest wave of COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began,” Wall Street Journal reporter Josh Zumbrun wrote last week.

The culprits for this wave of infections are BA.2 and its sublineage BA.2.12.1; the latter is now causing more than half of new cases in the U.S., according to CDC estimates. Northeast states, which have been BA.2.12.1 hotspots for a few weeks now, continue to report the highest case rates: these include Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, Massachusetts, D.C., and New York.

There are some promising signs that the BA.2 wave in these Northeast states may soon be on a downturn, if it isn’t already. Data from Biobot show that coronavirus levels in wastewater are dropping in this region, with reports from Boston and from Maine contributing to this pattern. New York City, where I live, has reported a case plateau for the last week or so, but I’m hopeful that it could turn into a downturn soon.

But will this encouraging pattern in the Northeast withstand the holiday weekend of largely-unmasked travel and gatherings? It may be a couple of weeks before we know for sure, because the holiday will interrupt data reporting (as holidays always do). The CDC itself is taking a long weekend off, with no Weekly Review this past Friday and no data updates at all Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 deaths—the most lagging pandemic metric—are going up once again. More than 300 Americans died of the disease each day last week, in a 13% increase from the week prior. These are the consequences of our country’s continued failure to protect the vulnerable.

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