Mar 10, 2022 - Health

COVID cases continue to plummet as America moves on

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

Coronavirus cases have continued to plummet nationally and in nearly all states, and daily deaths are also dropping.

Why it matters: COVID precautions have already been lifted across most of the country as pandemic fatigue runs deep. The virus will probably be with us for the long term, but these improving metrics show Americans are moving on with their lives more safely.

The big picture: In the post-Omicron, post-vaccination world, case counts aren't a very good indicator of how severe the pandemic is — a sentiment the CDC has embraced and worked into its official guidance.

  • But some people are still vulnerable to severe COVID cases, and the less of the virus that is around, the better it is for them.

By the numbers: Daily deaths fell by 24% over the last two weeks, from an average of more than 1,900 the week of Feb. 23 to 1,451 over the past week.

  • Deaths fall only after the number of cases and hospitalizations do, because they're a lagging metric. Thus, a drop in the number of deaths is the truest sign that the Omicron wave is almost over.
  • Cases fell by 48% over the same time period, and were averaging around 40,000 a day the week of March 8.

Yes, but: That daily death rate may be down from the pandemic peak, but it's still a lot of deaths, many of which are avoidable.

What we're watching: How low case rates fall is strongly connected with what the ongoing demand on the health system will be.

  • Especially amid staffing shortages, hospitals only have so much capacity at any given time, meaning the baseline caseload going forward still matters.
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