Jan 27, 2022 - Health

Omicron is finally burning out

Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New COVID infections are declining in the U.S. — a sign that the Omicron wave has likely peaked.

Yes, but: Deaths are rising, and the U.S. still has a lot of COVID — a reminder that even this milder variant is still a very real threat to unvaccinated Americans.

By the numbers: Nationwide, the U.S. is now averaging about 650,000 new COVID cases per day.

  • That's a 17% drop over the past two weeks, but still a very large number of cases.

Where it stands: Most of that decline is being driven by continued improvement on the East Coast, particularly in and around New York, Washington, D.C., and New England.

  • Those areas were the first to get hit with Omicron, the first to see cases begin to fall, and now their case rates are plummeting dramatically enough to pull the national average down with them.
  • A few new pockets of good news are also opening up in a handful of Western and Midwestern states.

But Omicron has not burned out yet in most of the U.S. It is still gaining ground — meaning new infections are still on the rise — in 28 states.

  • And deaths from COVID-19 are rising. The virus is now killing more than 2,300 Americans per day, on average — an increase of almost 30% over the past two weeks.
  • It always takes a few weeks for a new wave of COVID infections to kill however many people it's going to kill, and Omicron only landed in the U.S. last month. It is significantly less deadly than previous variants, but it is still deadly.
  • The overwhelming majority of people who have died from COVID, including Omicron, were unvaccinated.
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