COVID-19 deaths hit 3-year low as US cases and hospitalizations drop

As the United States marks the third anniversary of the pandemic, COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to decline at a dramatic rate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly coronavirus report released on Friday – the penultimate before the report was halted – the number of reported cases in the United States fell 19.7% to 21,422 a day. , compared to 26,685 in the previous week. The seven-day average of new hospital admissions fell by 9.5% – 2,757 a day from 3,046 last week. This compares to a peak of 22,000 per day during the omicron surge in early 2022.

This week marked the fewest weekly COVID deaths in the United States since March 25, 2020. On Wednesday, the country recorded 1,121,512 COVID deaths since the pandemic began. The number of people who died last week fell by 18.8%, but the virus continues to claim the lives of around 244 people every day.

The CDC estimates that the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant accounts for approximately 90.2% of the circulating lineages, while the other virus strains grow very slowly or not at all in proportion. The XBB.1.5.1 descendant strain, which the agency began tracking as a variant of concern last week, was sequenced in just 2.2% of cases.

About 88.7% of counties in the United States now have a “low” community level of COVID-19, according to the CDC’s metric for measuring the presence of the disease in the country. The number of counties with “high” and “medium” levels decreased by 0.4 and 3.4 percentage points, respectively. However, of the 50 states plus DC and Puerto Rico, 38 had at least one county with high or medium virus levels last week.

As of Wednesday, about 69.3% of people in the United States had completed the primary vaccination series, but only 16.2% had received an updated bivalent booster dose. The percentage of positive COVID-19 lab tests decreased from the previous week, with a seven-day average of 7.2% positivity. However, fewer people are taking tests that are publicly reported as more home testing: the number of official tests for the week ending March 9 was just 178,921, down 20.8% from 225,960 the previous week.

A more accurate snapshot can be provided by sewage monitoring, which captures coronavirus levels in the community regardless of testing. The latest US figures show that about 51% of sites are reporting less SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in their wastewater, while 38% are reporting more. Overall, about 53% of sites across the country are reporting moderate to high levels of SARS-CoV-2, and 20% say they are seeing some of their highest levels on December 1, 2021.

The latest numbers from the California Department of Public Health mirror national trends, but at a slower pace. The state reported an average of 2,295 daily new cases — or about 5.7 per 100,000 residents — on Thursday, up from 2,612 daily cases, or 6.5 per 100,000 residents the previous week. The state’s seven-day coronavirus test positivity rate fell to 5.7% from 5.9%.

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