COVID cases rising with Christmas — and Omicron — around the corner
Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are climbing across the U.S., ahead of a busy holiday week that will likely help the virus spread even more.
By the numbers: The U.S. is now averaging about 122,000 new cases per day — a slight increase over the past week, but a 41% spike over the past two weeks.
- Roughly 1,300 Americans are dying from COVID infections per day, on average.
- The CDC’s most recent update, released last week, showed a 15% jump in hospitalizations.
Where it stands: Wisconsin has the country’s biggest COVID outbreak right now, relative to its population, with an average of roughly 100 cases per 100,000 people.
- Michigan has more COVID deaths per 100,000 people than any other state, followed by Montana, Arizona, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin saw the biggest increase in average COVID deaths over the past two weeks.
Meanwhile, the vaccination rate in the U.S. is barely moving. Nearly 40% of Americans aren't fully vaccinated, and the number who are fully vaccinated increased by less than 2 percentage points so far this month, according to CDC data.
- About 27% of fully vaccinated Americans, including 52% of fully vaccinated seniors, have gotten a booster dose, per the CDC.
All available evidence shows that the vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious illness or death from the Delta variant of COVID-19, which remains the dominant strain in the U.S.
- The Omicron variant, which is likely to become the dominant strain soon, appears to spread even more easily than Delta.
- Early evidence suggests that vaccinated people will need a booster to achieve maximum protection against Omicron.
What we’re watching: Travel and indoor gatherings for Christmas will likely push COVID cases higher, and that trend will accelerate even further if and when Omicron gains a bigger foothold in the U.S.
- That will almost certainly translate into at least some increase in both hospitalizations and deaths, with unvaccinated Americans at the greatest risk for both.