National numbers, January 15

New hospital admissions for COVID-19 are starting to trend down, according to the CDC, though we’ll need more data to see if this trend persists.

In the past week (January 5 through 11), the U.S. officially reported about 420,000 new COVID-19 cases, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 59,000 new cases each day
  • 126 total new cases for every 100,000 Americans
  • 13% fewer new cases than last week (December 29-January 4)

In the past week, the U.S. also reported about 40,000 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals. This amounts to:

  • An average of 5,800 new admissions each day
  • 12.3 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
  • 12% fewer new admissions than last week

Additionally, the U.S. reported:

  • 3,900 new COVID-19 deaths (560 per day)
  • 43% of new cases are caused by Omicron XBB.1.5; 45% by BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 (as of January 14)
  • An average of 150,000 vaccinations per day (CDC link)

Last week, I wrote that a combination of holiday travel/gatherings and the latest Omicron subvariant, XBB.1.5, was driving a winter surge. This week, COVID-19 metrics suggest that the surge may have peaked, though we’ll need more data to say for sure—and XBB.1.5 remains a concern.

After reporting a significant increase in coronavirus levels through the end of December, Biobot’s wastewater dashboard is now showing downturns nationally and for all four U.S. regions. The CDC’s wastewater dashboard similarly shows that about two-thirds of sites in the National Wastewater Surveillance System have reported decreasing COVID-19 levels in the last two weeks, as of January 10.

“Importantly, this data is subject to change as we update 2x weekly,” Biobot’s Twitter shared on Thursday, when the company’s dashboard was most recently updated. “Stay tuned for Tuesday’s update.”

Official COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions are also trending down, according to CDC data: new cases dropped by 13% from the week ending January 4 to the week ending January 11, while newly hospitalized patients dropped by 12%. But this trend isn’t universal; five states and Washington D.C. reported increased hospitalizations this week, with the biggest upticks in Rhode Island, Louisiana, and Maine.

XBB.1.5, the latest and most contagious Omicron subvariant, caused an estimated 43% of new cases nationwide in the week ending January 14, per the CDC. It’s clearly outcompeting BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 as well as a number of other strains in the “Omicron soup” we currently face, but is not taking over as quickly as we saw the original Omicron do in late 2021.

This strain continues to dominate the Northeast—particularly New England and New York/New Jersey—where COVID-19 spread is trending down. But it’s just starting to pick up in other parts of the country; to me, it seems likely that the Northeast had a holidays-and-XBB.1.5 combined surge, while other areas may face a second COVID-19 increase as this variant spreads more widely.

Meanwhile, other respiratory viruses continue to place additional burden on our health system. For example, the CDC recently released estimates about this year’s flu season, finding that the flu may have caused up to 560,000 hospitalizations and 48,000 deaths since fall 2022.

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