Covid infections are falling in the U.S. for the first time since the Omicron variant erupted at the end of 2021. The nation recorded 721,651 new cases on Monday, a steep fall from the 1.364 million cases reported last Monday. America’s new daily case average has also dropped 10 percent over the past seven days, from 766,939 to 684,457.
A DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins University data found there were 717,874 new cases recorded between midnight Monday and midnight Tuesday. Monday is often the day when reported case counts are highest as lagging figures from the weekend are finally reported.
Last week’s 1.364 million cases recorded on Monday was the highest single day case total the nation ever recorded. This week’s total was affected by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, where many local governments and municipalities were closed and did not fully report cases. It is likely that some cases shift to Tuesday this week instead.
But Covid cases have been plunging for days in those states hardest hit by Omicron when it first arrived in the US in early December, suggesting the latest phase pandemic could really be drawing to a close.
Two-week case averages are generally the most stable figures and can smooth out single day outliers. Over the past 14 days, overall cases in the U.S. are up 40 percent, though that figure is expected to decline further in the coming days as many previous Covid hotspots in the U.S. are now seeing case counts trend in the right direction.
As of Tuesday morning, Johns Hopkins University reports that the U.S. has logged 66,456,516 cases and 851,730 deaths since the pandemic first began. That means there has been one reported Covid case for every five Americans so far – with the figure likely being even higher due to the mass underreporting of cases and test shortages that have been a problem during different waves of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, put a fly in the ointment after warning that yet another new variant could emerge – and that it could resist existing immunity in those infected or vaccinated.
New COVID infections in the US dropped by 47 percent in a week, sparking cautious hopes that the latest surge triggered by the Omicron variant may have peaked
Deaths have also slumped by 38 percent too, from 1,835 last Monday, to 1,125 yesterday
In New York, where Omicron hit first, cases have dropped from a record high of 85,014 new infections on January 6, to 48,712 diagnoses on January 16.
Neighboring New Jersey, which was also hit hard by the new variant, has seen a similar sharp dip in its caseload, from a record 31,699 on January 7, to 19,771 on January 16.
It was a similar story in California and Florida too.
The Golden State recorded a record 11,6,004 new cases on January 11. But just five days later, cases have plunged to 72,399.
Over in the Sunshine State, the record of 78,449 cases seen on January 7 has sunk sharply to 40,848 infections on January 16.
Seven day average numbers also bear out the drop.
Scientists in the US are hopeful that the same steep drop in cases seen in countries such as the United Kingdom and South Africa – where Omicron was first sequenced – will also be repeated here.
In New York, where Omicron hit first, cases have dropped from a record high of 85,014 new infections on January 6, to 48,712 diagnoses on January 16. Neighboring New Jersey saw a similar sharp dip in its caseload, from a record 31,699 on January 7, to 19,771 on January 16
California recorded a record 11,6,004 new cases on January 11. But just five days later, cases have plunged to 72,399. In Florida, the record of 78,449 cases seen on January 7 has sunk sharply to 40,848 infections on January 16
In the UK, cases are continuing to decline after a massive surge struck the nation last month. The country recorded 84,429 new cases on Monday, and the daily case average has fallen to around the 100,000 mark – and will likely only fall further in the coming days.
South Africa is now recording less than 5,000 new COVID cases per day after reaching the heights of more than 23,000 per day only a few weeks ago.
However, the emergence of Omicron, there is potential for a new variant to emerge in the future that can bypass the natural immunity provided by infection from the new strain.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told the Davos Agenda virtual event Monday that ‘natural vaccination’ – or immunity via previous infection – might not be as effective as some believe.
He says that even if Omicron – which has caused a massive surge in new cases worldwide but is not as severe or deadly as its predecessors – is the final strain of COVID, it will likely become endemic, meaning the outbreak becomes predictable.
His warning runs counter to the positive predictions coming from some officials in the UK who believe that the virus could have a ‘flu-type’ relationship with people by the end of the year based on its current spread.
‘I would hope that that’s the case. But that would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant,’ Fauci said.
In the UK, cases are continuing to decline after a massive surge struck the nation last month. The country recorded 84,429 new cases on Monday, and the daily case average has fallen to around the 100,000 mark – and will likely only fall further in the coming days
Dr Anthony Fauci (pictured) warned that even if Omicron – which has caused a massive surge in new cases worldwide but is not as severe or deadly as its predecessors – is the final strain of COVID, it will likely become endemic
Fauci has previously made grim projections about new COVID variants, and was ultimately proven correct about a variant like Omicron emerging.
In August, when the Delta variant was first rising in the US, Fauci warned that with transmission of Covid so rampant it was likely that a vaccine resistant variant would eventually emerge.
Months later, than variant did come about, when South African health officials discovered the highly infectious Omicron variant in late November.
He fears that there is a chance another variant emerges that has mutated in a way that allows it to get around protection provided by recovering from Omicron.
COVID becoming endemic as a result of Omicron has become a common theory among health experts and officials, and has served as a beacon of hope for the population suffering through the recent surge.
Omicron is burning through people so quickly, causing daily COVID cases to hit records almost everywhere in the world, that it could soon run out of people to infect.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron accounts for 98 percent of active cases in the US, almost entirely pushing out the much more severe Delta variant.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron accounts for 98 percent of active cases in the US, almost entirely pushing out the much more severe Delta variant
Add that COVID booster shots have been found to be effective against the variant and the number of people left for the variant to infect is quickly running out.
Once it does burn out, infections will continue at a lower rate, and due to the mild nature of the variant and regular availability of vaccines in the developed world it should be possible to control the virus.
Fauci said reaching that level is what would be needed for COVID to be shifted from a pandemic to endemic.
‘Control means you have it present but it is present at a level that does not disrupt society,’ he said. ‘That’s my definition of what endemicity would mean.’
At this point, life would basically be back to normal. Lockdown measures, masking and vaccine mandates would no longer be needed even though the virus is still circulating.
‘It’s not going to be that you’ll eliminate this disease completely. But hopefully, it will be at such a low level that it doesn’t disrupt our normal social, economic and other interactions with each other,’ Fauci said. ‘To me, that’s what the new normal is.’