National numbers, June 18

COVID-19 hospital admissions and test positivity (from a select number of labs) are both trending slightly down. Chart from the CDC.

In the past week (June 4 through 10), the U.S. reported about 6,600 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals, according to the CDC. This amounts to:

  • An average of 950 new admissions each day
  • 2.0 total admissions for every 100,000 Americans
  • 8% fewer new admissions than last week (May 28-June 3)

Additionally, the U.S. reported:

  • 4.0% of tests in the CDC’s surveillance network came back positive (a 5% decrease from last week)
  • A 5% lower concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater than last week (as of June 14, per Biobot’s dashboard)
  • 40% of new cases are caused by Omicron XBB.1.5; 26% by XBB.1.16; 21% by XBB.1.9 (as of June 10)

Overall, the national COVID-19 picture remains fairly similar to what we’ve seen for the last few weeks. The U.S. is at a plateau of COVID-19 spread; we could see an increase this summer, but limited data make it hard to say for sure.

New hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to trend slightly down, with just under 1,000 patients admitted each day nationwide. This is the first time that the U.S. has passed this low benchmark since early in the pandemic, and suggests the protective value of vaccinations and prior infections for preventing severe symptoms.

Biobot Analytics resolved the data issue I mentioned last week and provided updated wastewater numbers, also showing a continued (though slight) downward trend. Current national coronavirus levels are far below this time last year, when Omicron BA.2 variants were spreading widely, though they’re still above prior low points in 2020 and 2021.

Biobot’s regional data also show mostly plateaus, though coronavirus levels may be increasing very slightly in the Northeast. The CDC’s wastewater data also suggest some places in the Northeast may be seeing increased viral spread, but it’s difficult to identify a clear regional trend.

Trends from the CDC’s lab testing network similarly show a potential increase in COVID-19 spread in the Northeast over the last couple of weeks, though this testing trend has yet to translate to higher hospitalizations. In New York City, some of the sewersheds that reported recent coronavirus upticks now appear to be trending back down.

Is a summer surge coming for the Northeast, and then the rest of the country? Right now, it’s quite hard to say; signals from wastewater and testing data are mixed, sometimes delayed, and tough to interpret in the short term. I’ll be watching closely to see how this changes in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that data are especially limited when it comes to Long COVID, one of the most severe (and most likely) impacts of coronavirus infection. As testing becomes less and less accessible, fewer people will recognize their infections—and, as a result, they may be less likely to recognize later symptoms as Long COVID. But those symptoms can still occur, and cause lasting damage.

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