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).
Last month, the CDC started publishing data from a surveillance program focused on international travelers coming into the U.S. I talked to bioinformatics experts involved with the program to learn more about how it works.
When the CDC updated its variant prevalence estimates this week, the agency added new versions of Omicron to the dashboard. In the U.S., COVID-19 cases are now driven by: BA.5, BA.4.6, BQ.1, BQ.1.1, BF.7, BA.2.75, and BA.2.75.2. And possibly more subvariants that we aren’t tracking yet.
Omicron BF.7, an offshoot of BA.5, is the latest subvariant to raise red flags among experts tracking COVID-19 in the U.S. This week, BF.7 passed BA.2.75, another worrying lineage, in the CDC’s prevalence estimates: the CDC found that it caused about 2.3% of new cases nationwide in the week ending September 24.
Officially-reported COVID-19 cases are still on the decline nationwide this week, as are newly hospitalized patients (a more reliable metric). About 4,400 people with COVID-19 were admitted to hospitals across the country, compared to over 6,000 a day in late July. But wastewater data are suggesting a potential new surge.
BA.2.75, a newer subvariant that evolved from BA.2, has been driving increased coronavirus transmission in some other countries recently. This lineage has yet to be identified in large numbers in the U.S., but I was inspired by a recent reader question to share what we’ve learned about it since my previous post in July.
As official COVID-19 case data become less and less reliable, wastewater surveillance can help provide a picture of where and how much the virus is spreading. This week, I put together a new COVID-19 Data Dispatch resource page that outlines major national, state, and local wastewater dashboards across the U.S.