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 a significant post-Thanksgiving spike, COVID-19 transmission in the U.S. appears to be in a high plateau, according to trends in cases and wastewater. Official case counts stayed fairly steady this week compared to the week following the holiday, according to the CDC, while wastewater data from Biobot show coronavirus concentrations leveling out.
It’s now undeniable that Thanksgiving led to a jump in COVID-19 spread: officially-reported cases went up 50% this past week compared to the week of the holiday, following the trend that we first saw in wastewater data. Hospital admissions for COVID-19 also continue to go up.
If the U.S. wasn’t at the start of a COVID-19 surge before Thanksgiving, we’re certainly in one now. While official case counts have stagnated, wastewater surveillance indicates that the country is seeing about 1.5 times the coronavirus transmission that we had three weeks ago, according to data from Biobot.
Nationwide, reported COVID-19 cases went up last week: the CDC reports 8% more cases in the week ending November 23 than in the week ending November 16. Wastewater monitoring also suggests a pre-Thanksgiving uptick, according to Biobot, while new hospitalizations have been at a plateau.
Nationwide, reported COVID-19 cases and new hospital admissions are still in a plateau; both metrics declined very slightly this week after rising slightly last week (declining by 3% and 1%, respectively).
We are beginning to see the impacts of colder weather and new variants this week, as both official COVID-19 cases and new hospital admissions went up slightly: increasing by 6% and 5% from the prior week, respectively. Wastewater monitoring similarly shows an uptick in coronavirus transmission at the national level, according to Biobot’s dashboard. The Northeast still has the highest virus concentration, but other regions of the country are catching up.
The national COVID-19 picture continues to be somewhat murky, thanks in part to poor-quality data. Both nationwide cases and new hospital admissions trended slightly upward in the last week (by 2% and 1%, respectively); this could reflect the beginnings of fall surges in some places, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Official COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop nationwide, according to the CDC, but I remain concerned that a fall surge is coming soon. New subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are particularly worth watching.
Following a pattern from the last couple of months, national COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to trend slightly downward this week—though local indicators suggest we may experience a fall surge soon.