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

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

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly coronavirus report released on Friday — the fourth penultimate before the report is discontinued — the number of reported cases in the U.S. fell 19.7% to 21,422 a day, compared to 26,685 in the USA. last week. The seven-day average for new hospital admissions was 9.5% lower: 2,757 per day compared to 3,046 last week. That compares to a peak of 22,000 per day during the Omicron peak in early 2022.

This week marked the fewest weekly COVID deaths in the US since March 25, 2020. As of Wednesday, the country has recorded 1,121,512 deaths from COVID since the pandemic began. The number of people who died last week fell by 18.8%, but the virus still kills about 244 people every day.

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

About 88.7% of U.S. counties now have “low” COVID-19 community levels, according to the CDC’s metrics for measuring disease presence across the country. The number of provinces with a “high” and “medium” level 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 average virus levels last week.

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

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

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

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