Health Care

Daily COVID-19 infections surpass summer peak

Associated Press/David Zalubowski

The United States has surpassed its summer peak of COVID-19 infections, with a seven-day average of more than 168,000 cases, according to New York Times data.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is slightly delayed, but is on track to surpass the summer in the coming days. 

The nation was already struggling to bring cases under control due to the delta variant, and on Sept. 1 the seven-day average peaked at more than 164,000 cases.  

However, the numbers don’t distinguish between the mild infections of people who have been vaccinated and the unvaccinated who have severe infections. 

Infections were rising as people traveled and gathered indoors for Thanksgiving. But the recent spike is driven at least in part by the omicron variant, which has proven even more transmissible than delta.

The latest surge is the second-largest wave of the pandemic so far, but is still far behind the spike from November 2020 to January 2021, before vaccines were widely available. During the highest point of that period, cases averaged close to 250,000 a day.

Infections right now are especially high in the Northeast, and while coronavirus-related hospitalizations are rising, it’s mostly among the unvaccinated. Health systems are struggling across the country from a perfect storm of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, fewer beds and people who delayed care for other issues earlier in the pandemic. 

Preliminary evidence shows that omicron is significantly more contagious than other variants, but people who have been vaccinated and received a booster are far more likely to have a mild infection.

Adults who remain unvaccinated face a far greater risk of hospitalization and death.

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Delta variant Omicron variant

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