New cases of COVID-19 in the United States reach record highs | News, Sports, Jobs
CHICAGO (AP) – More than a year after the vaccine was deployed, new cases of COVID-19 in the United States reached their highest level on record at more than 265,000 per day on average, an increase largely due part with the highly contagious omicron. variant.
New cases per day have more than doubled in the past two weeks, eclipsing the old mark of 250,000, set for mid-January, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The rapidly spreading mutant version of the virus cast a veil over Christmas and New Years, forcing communities to cut back or cancel their festivities just weeks after it looked like Americans were about to enjoy a season almost normal vacation. Thousands of flights have been canceled due to a staff shortage blamed on the virus.
Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert, said on Wednesday there was no need to cancel small home gatherings among vaccinated and boosted family and friends.
But “if your plans are to go to a 40-50 New Years party with all the bells and whistles and everyone hugging and wishing each other a happy new year, I would highly recommend that this year we don’t. let’s not do that, ”he said.
The threat of omicron and the desire to spend the holidays with friends and relatives has prompted many Americans to get tested for COVID-19.
Aravindh Shankar, 24, traveled over Christmas to San Jose, Calif. From West Lafayette, Indiana, to join his family. Even though he was feeling well, he decided to get tested on Wednesday just to play it safe, since he had been on a plane.
He and his family spent almost an entire day looking for a date for him before heading to a site in a parking lot next to the San Jose airport.
“It was actually surprisingly difficult,” Shankar said of trying to find a test. “Some people definitely have a harder time.”
The picture is grim elsewhere in the world, particularly in Europe, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, worried about the combination of omicron with the delta variant to produce a “tsunami” of cases . This, he said, will put “immense pressure on exhausted health workers and health systems on the brink of collapse.”
The number of Americans currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is around 60,000, about half of the figure seen in January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
While hospitalizations sometimes lag behind cases, hospital numbers may reflect both the protection the vaccine provides and the possibility that omicron may not make people as sick as previous versions.
Deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have fallen from an average of 1,200 per day to around 1,500 in the past two weeks.
Public health experts will closely monitor the numbers over the coming week for indications of the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing serious illness, keeping people from going to hospitals and relieving exhausted healthcare workers said Bob Bednarczyk, professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University.
Data from the CDC already suggests that the unvaccinated are hospitalized at much higher rates than those who have been vaccinated, even though the effectiveness of the injections declines over time, he said.
“If we are able to weather this wave with hopefully minimal disruption to the overall health system, this is a place where vaccines really show their value,” Bednarczyk said.
Hospitalizations are highly unlikely to peak at their previous peak, said Amesh Adalja, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at Bloomberg School Public Health. Vaccines and treatments developed since last year have made it easier to curb the spread of the virus and minimize the serious effects in people with chronic infections.
“It will take some time for people to realize that cases don’t matter the same way they did in the past,” Adalja said. “We have a lot of defense against this.”
But even with fewer people hospitalized compared to past outbreaks, the virus can wreak havoc on hospitals and healthcare workers, he added.
“In a way, these hospitalizations are worse because they are all preventable,” he said.
Several European countries, including France, Greece, Britain and Spain, also reported a record number of cases this week, leading to a ban on music during New Year’s celebrations in Greece and a new impetus to encourage vaccination by the French authorities.
The WHO reported that new cases of COVID-19 around the world increased by 11% last week compared to the previous week, with nearly 4.99 million recorded from December 20 to 26. But the United Nations health agency has also noted a drop in cases in South Africa, where omicron was first detected just over a month ago.