The slowing of Covid cases is continuing in the U.S., with cases now down five percent nationwide over the past two weeks, and it is starting to appear that mid-January was the peak of the Omicron variant’s surge. The U.S. is now averaging 723,820 cases per day. Individual states are starting to see case shrink as well, with zero states now recording an increase of cases of more than 100 percent over the past two weeks.
Health experts have speculated that Omicron would peak soon. The rapid transmission of the variant caused cases to skyrocket, but also made sure it quickly ran out of people to infect. Data from abroad, and specifically the UK and South Africa, showed that the variant peaks quickly, then falls quickly, once it take hold.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. was recording 766,939 cases per day. Last weeks totals are skewed by the Martin Luther King Jr day holiday, and lagged reporting of cases throughout the week caused lower case number early in the week.
Despite the slowing of cases, deaths remain on the rise. The U.S. is averaging 2,122 new daily Covid deaths, up 30 percent over the past two weeks. Deaths often lag behind case by around two weeks. It appears that cases peaked at 806,364 per day on January 15, meaning it is likely deaths peak in the coming days as well.
Dropping cases nationwide is also being reflected in state-by-state Covid figures. According to official data, not a single state in the U.S. has had its new daily cases double over the past two weeks. Only two weeks ago, every single state in the country had experienced cases jumping by more than 100 percent.
States that were hit the earliest by the Omicron variant are seeing the sharpest decline as well. New York and New Jersey – the neighboring states that quickly suffered massive surges last month – are both recording two-week daily case declines of nearly 70 percent as the virus appears to subside.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a bizarre move on Tuesday despite rising cases, halting the use of monoclonal antibody treatments developed by major pharmaceutical companies like Regeneron and Eli Lilly.
The agency notes the apparent lack of effectiveness these drugs have against the Omicron variant as the reason for the decision.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said earlier this month that Omicron was not causing many deaths in the U.S., and instead the lingering cases of the Delta variant were causing the most harm to Americans.
In the time since, the Omicron variant has almost totally overtaken Delta – accounting for more than 99 percent of active cases in the U.S. per CDC data. Deaths in the U.S. have continued to rise despite the
Monoclonal antibody drugs are highly effective against the Delta variant, and the main downside of using them is their expense and the high number of medical resources needed to distribute them.
Now, recently approved antiviral pills like Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir will likely take over as the main treatments for people after they have been infected with Covid.
The Covid vaccines are also effective at preventing infection all together – especially if a person is boosted as well – and vaccinated people generally have much more mild symptoms after infection.
Official CDC data reports that 75 percent of Americans have received at least one shot of a Covid vaccine, 63 percent are fully vaccinated. Just over 25 percent of Americans have received a Covid booster shot.
In the UK, daily Covid cases have begun to steady after massive falls in recent weeks. The nation was one of the hardest struck by the Omicron variant last month, with cases surging as high as 180,000 per day on average. Cases quickly plummeted after peaking in early January.
South Africa, the first nation to suffer a massive surge of cases late last year after discovering the new variant in late November, has seen a rapid decline in cases over recent weeks as well. Cases peaked at over 23,437 new cases per day in mid-December, and are down to 3,110 as on Monday.
While U.S. appears to be beyond its peak of Covid cases, its trend downwards may not be as rapid nationwide as it is in some of its peer nations. America is a much larger country than others, and its not very densely populated. There are also long distances between individual population centers.
This means that while cases will rapidly decline in individual areas, like they did in the UK and South Africa, the nationwide trends will not be as dramatic.
Omicron’s surge has a clear westward trajectory, and has also seemed to move beyond the Mississippi river and into the Great Frontier.
Numbers may not appear to be dropping as dramatically in the U.S. as it did in other countries, but that is more the case of a clear east-west divide rather than the variant acting differently in America than it did elsewhere.
Only one state east of the Mississippi river is recording more than an 85 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks, Kentucky.
Every other state in the eastern portion of the nation is either reporting declining cases or smaller increases.
Twenty states are currently recording either a decline in cases over the past two weeks, or a flat zero increase. Only three are west of the Mississippi river, with Louisiana – down 28 percent – being along the river itself.
From Maine to Florida, nearly every state along the east coast is recording a decline in cases. New York and New Jersey are recording 68 percent and 69 percent decline respectively – a similar to drop to what England experienced after reaching its peak.
Other states along the coast like Pennsylvania (45 percent), Massachusetts (44 percent) and Florida (43 percent) are also reporting massive case declines over the past two weeks.
Even states out west that are experiencing rising cases are seeing the rate of daily infection increases at a lower level.
States like Montana and Wyoming that were experiencing near 200 percent increases in cases last week have seen two-week case growth fall to around 65 percent each. North Dakota – also recording near 200 percent jumps last week – is the leader in national case increases at 96 percent.