National numbers, September 25

Reported COVID-19 cases in New York City have started going up slightly in the last few days, according to the city health department.

In the past week (September 17 through 23), the U.S. reported about 380,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 54,000 new cases each day
  • 116 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 11% fewer new cases than last week (September 10-16)

In the past week, the U.S. also reported about 28,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This amounts to:

  • An average of 4,000 new admissions each day
  • 8.5 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
  • 10% fewer new admissions than last week

Additionally, the U.S. reported:

  • 2,400 new COVID-19 deaths (350 per day)
  • 83% of new cases are caused by Omicron BA.5; 12% by BA.4.6; 2% by BF.7;  1% by BA.2.75 (as of September 24)
  • An average of 300,000 vaccinations per day

Nationally, official COVID-19 case counts continue to decline: reported cases are down about 11% last week compared to the prior week, while new COVID-19 patients in hospitals are down 10%. But signals from wastewater and variants suggest a fall surge may be starting soon. 

“Currently, most of the country is reporting moderate to high SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater,” CDC officials noted in this Friday’s COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review. For almost 20% of sites, these coronavirus levels are the highest seen since December 2021, the CDC reports. About half the wastewater sites in the CDC’s network are reporting an increase in coronavirus levels and half are reporting a decrease.

Notably, many of the wastewater sites reporting increased coronavirus spread are in the Northeast, a region that’s also a hotspot for Omicron subvariants BA.2.75 and BF.7. BF.7, a new sublineage that evolved from BA.5, is particularly worth watching (more on that below). Overall, the U.S.’s variant composition is slowly shifting from BA.5 to these two subvariants, along with BA.4.6—which caused 12% of new cases nationwide in the week ending September 24.

According to the latest Community Profile Report, states reporting significant increases in cases from week to week include Nevada, California, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon. In New York City—often a bellwether for new surges—cases have started to tick up slightly, according to the city’s health department, after a long (and slow) decline from July’s summer peak.

Meanwhile, other common respiratory viruses might make a comeback this fall, report Dr. Katelyn Jetelina and Dr. Caitlin Rivers in a joint issue of their newsletters. Data so far on the flu, RSV, rhinovirus, and other viruses we consider part of a normal fall season suggest that children in the U.S. might have a particularly virus-heavy fall and winter—putting more pressure on the healthcare system.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 this fall is by receiving one of the new, Omicron-specific booster shots. According to the CDC, about 4.4 million Americans have received one so far, as of September 21. The new shots have brought our vaccine administration counts to over 300,000 new doses given a day, but that still pales in comparison to the millions administered daily during the spring 2021 campaign.

I received my own booster on Friday at a NYC Health + Hospitals site. Unlike my primary series doses, for which my girlfriend and I had to wait in long lines with hundreds of other New Yorkers, we got our new shots in a small, hard-to-find room tucked away in a small corner of a south Brooklyn hospital campus. This vaccination campaign seems to be almost an afterthought when it deserves primetime attention.

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