In the past week (June 25 through July 1), the U.S. reported about 800,000 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
- 11% more new cases than last week (June 18-24)
In the past week, the U.S. also reported about 35,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This amounts to:
- An average of 5,000 new admissions each day
- 10.6 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
- 12% more new admissions than last week
Additionally, the U.S. reported:
- 2,200 new COVID-19 deaths (0.7 for every 100,000 people)
- 48% of new cases are Omicron BA.2.12.1-caused; 52% BA.4/BA.5-caused (as of June 25)
- An average of 150,000 vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)
BA.4 and BA.5 are now the dominant coronavirus lineages in the U.S., and they’re reviving our recent surge: from the plateau of recent weeks, national COVID-19 cases are clearly going up again. Reported cases rose 11% last week from the week prior. And, as always, this number is a significant undercount of true infections.
New hospital admissions also went up last week: about 5,000 Americans were admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 each day, up 12% from the week prior. While the vast majority of COVID-19 cases may now be mild—thanks to vaccinations, prior infections, and treatments—this is a reminder that severe symptoms are still very possible.
Wastewater data from Biobot indicate a continued plateau in transmission at the national level. At the regional level, COVID-19 levels are trending down in the West and South, but ticking up again in the Northeast, likely as BA.4 and BA.5 take over from BA.2.12.1 in these areas.
In my FAQ post last month ago, I wrote that scientists weren’t yet sure whether BA.4 and BA.5 would be able to outcompete BA.2.12.1, the offshoot of BA.2 first identified in New York. Now, it seems clear that BA.4 and BA.5 are capable of dominating: these two subvariants caused over half of new cases nationwide in the week ending June 25, as well as in most regions.
Even places like New York City, which saw a major BA.2/BA.2.12.1 wave, is now reporting another uptick in cases, according to data from the local health department. The city’s test positivity rate went over 10% on Thursday for the first time since January, a signal of the underreporting in recent weeks as PCR testing becomes less popular. And yet, city leadership is not interested in implementing any new safety precautions.
Remember, the problem with these subvariants is that they’re built for reinfection. Even if you had Omicron BA.1 in the winter, or even had BA.2 this spring, you could easily get BA.4 or BA.5. These infections are, at best, a week-long inconvenience, and at worst, could turn into Long COVID.
The holiday tomorrow will interrupt COVID-19 reporting, as holidays always do. Stay safe this weekend, and don’t be fooled if you see a brief downturn in case numbers.