The United States now averages more than 700,000 new cases of coronavirus per day, according to USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
The country reported around 4.91 million cases in the week ending Saturday. This is more cases in seven days than in April, May, June and July 2021 combined. At the latest rate, eight Americans are testing positive every second. Each of the past five days ranks in the top five in the entire pandemic for the highest number of cases.
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we passed a million cases a day,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, told News 4 New York in an interview on Saturday. As a perspective, at one point in June, the US weekly average daily workload was just over 11,000.
And while the prevalent omicron variant is milder on a case-by-case basis, a growing number of new cases are weighing on hospitals. A federal report released on Saturday shows around 138,000 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds, up 32% from the previous week.
But Fauci told the channel the dismal numbers could start to drop by the end of the month.
“I can’t predict with precision, because nobody can. But hopefully by the time we get to the fourth week of January… we will start to see that happening,” Fauci said.
– Mike stucka
Also in the news:
►American Republic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, announced on Twitter Sunday evening that she tested positive with a groundbreaking case of COVID-19. She is currently showing symptoms and is recovering at home, and had received her recall in the fall.
►The Chinese city of Tianjin began mass testing its 14 million residents on Sunday as it faced what could be China’s first omicron outbreak. The Winter Olympics open in less than four weeks in neighboring Beijing.
►The NHL has postponed two games scheduled for Monday night due to COVID-19 issues. The Tampa Bay Lightning game against the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators game against the Edmonton Oilers have been postponed. The Devils and Oilers are the teams affected by COVID-19.
►Illinois Governor Pritzker has agreed to provide 350,000 coronavirus tests to Chicago public schools, scrambling to get 330,000 students back to classrooms. Schools closed on Wednesday, with no distance learning, after teachers voted to teach only online. Schools will not reopen on Monday unless enough teachers return, schools director general Pedro Martinez said. Negotiations resumed on Sunday.
►With 15.9 million new cases worldwide in the week ending Saturday, or 26.2 infections per second, the global rate is up 64% from the previous week.
The numbers of the day: The United States has recorded more than 60 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 837,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 306.5 million cases and 5.48 million deaths. More than 207.6 million Americans – 62.5% – are fully immunized, according to the CDC.
What we read: And U.S ? The 16 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “question our protection” against COVID-19 – but have been waiting for a third shot. Read the full story.
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Experts: It may be time to determine what level of COVID is acceptable
Political leaders need to start talking about what levels of COVID-19 are acceptable, say a trio of health experts in a new commentary from the medical journal JAMA. Respiratory viruses such as the flu and now SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will be impossible to eliminate because they mutate so much that the immune system cannot protect them forever, some experts say. Omicron is described as being “softer” than previous variants, but many people still end up in the hospital, clogging up the healthcare system – which is not sustainable.
Still, a prevalent but little disease-causing variant could be something anyone can take, like the flu, wrote Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and health policy expert at the University of Pennsylvania and two colleagues. Read more here.
– Karen Weintraub
2 years later, the latest increase derails basic services again
Omicron-fueled coronavirus infections hitting the United States are crashing basic functions and services. Many police, fire and emergency medical services, hospitals, schools and government agencies have used a comprehensive approach on the bridge. But we don’t know how long it can last. And many businesses are struggling as well. It is the latest illustration of how COVID-19 continues to transform lives more than two years after the start of the pandemic.
“I think it really reminds everyone when COVID-19 first appeared and there were such major disruptions in all aspects of our normal lives,” said Tom Cotter, director of interventions emergency and preparedness for the global health nonprofit Project HOPE. “And the sad reality is that there is no way to predict what will happen next until we increase our immunization numbers – globally.”
America is once again facing a COVID-19 testing crisis as many people struggle to find home kits, scammers take advantage of fake rapid tests, and some areas restrict access to community testing sites.
Indiana restricts who is eligible for rapid testing at state and local health department testing sites. San Diego health officials are urging residents to only get tested if they have symptoms. Some New York City testing sites prioritize testing teachers to keep schools open. And San Francisco will prioritize testing people with symptoms of COVID over asymptomatic people.
In addition to testing problems, the Federal Trade Commission warned Americans this week against bogus home test kits “as opportunistic scammers take advantage of rising demand.”
Royal Caribbean International is suspending operations on multiple ships due to COVID-19, canceling some crossings and delaying a ship’s return to the cruise. While most cruises have still not been canceled, the CDC has advised against cruises in the coming weeks. The news from Royal Caribbean comes as the Ruby Princess cruise ship – the same ship that hosted a devastating coronavirus outbreak in 2020 – reportedly allowed a dozen infected passengers to disembark in San Francisco.
From November 30 to December 14, cruise ships operating in U.S. waters reported 162 cases of COVID-19 to the CDC. From December 15 to 29, that number rose to 5,013.
Contribution: The Associated Press