In the past week (July 2 through 8), the U.S. reported about 750,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:
- An average of 110,000 new cases each day
- 227 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
- 4% fewer new cases than last week (June 25-July 1)
In the past week, the U.S. also reported about 36,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This amounts to:
- An average of 5,000 new admissions each day
- 10.8 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
- 3% more new admissions than last week
Additionally, the U.S. reported:
- 1,900 new COVID-19 deaths (0.6 for every 100,000 people)
- 27% of new cases are Omicron BA.2.12.1-caused; 70% BA.4/BA.5-caused (as of July 2)
- An average of 150,000 vaccinations per day (per Bloomberg)
Our prolonged Omicron subvariant surge continues, now dominated clearly by BA.5. While reported COVID-19 cases dipped slightly last week at the national level, this is almost certainly a result of the July 4 holiday rather than an actual slowing in coronavirus transmission.
As evidence, note that the number of COVID-19 patients newly reported to hospitals—a metric less impacted by holidays—continued to rise last week. About 5,000 new patients were admitted each day, double the hospitalization rate in early May.
Anecdotally, it seems like everyone knows someone who has COVID-19, even if their cases aren’t making it into official data due to at-home tests. And many of those people sick right now already had Omicron BA.1—or even BA.2—earlier this year. Such is the power of BA.4 and BA.5, the subvariants that have taken over the U.S. and many other countries in recent weeks.
BA.5 in particular seems to have a competitive advantage over all other Omicron subvariants. It’s now causing the majority of new COVID-19 cases in the country, with the most recent CDC estimates placing it at 54% prevalence as of July 2. This recent New York Magazine article does a good job of explaining by BA.5 is so worrying, as does this piece in the Guardian.
To quote from Melody Schreiber’s Guardian article:
“Covid-19 is very clearly not over. We’re seeing dramatic increases in the number of cases and hospitalizations in many places throughout the United States,” said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida’s College of Public Health.
As BA.5, one of the Omicron sub-variants, begins buffeting the US, “we’re headed in a bad direction”, Salemi said. “We’ve seen it coming for a while … We’ve seen it go pretty unabated.”
More than one in three Americans live in a county at medium risk from Covid, and one in five are at high risk, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . That’s the highest proportion of the country facing risks since February, Salemi said.
Wastewater data from Biobot similarly shows transmission continuing to plateau or increase throughout the country. The Northeast, one region where BA.2 and BA.2.12.1 seemed to peak a couple of weeks ago, is now reporting case increases again. In New York City, for example, all five boroughs are now back in the CDC’s “high risk for hospitalizations” category.
As this surge continues, essential workers and those who are medically vulnerable continue to be most at risk. Remember this, when you consider masking and other precautions.