The US is on track to reach new records for 7-day average cases, though death rates remain lower.
The US has reached a new high in daily COVID-19 cases on December 27, as spread of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant during the holiday weekend resulted in more than 540,000 new cases.
The 7-day average for new daily COVID-19 cases is rapidly approaching 250,000 and will likely surpass the national high of approximately 259,000 reached in the post-holiday outbreak of early January 2021, per data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In regional and national data collected by The New York Times, the daily average of COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations have also steadily increased during the outbreak; approximately 1.8 million tests are being administered daily, and 71,000 people are hospitalized daily.
Sixteen states including Washington, DC have reported a ≥100% increase in average daily new cases in the last 14 days.
Despite these alarming rates, new daily averages for COVID-19 deaths have decreased by 5% in the last 14 days. This may be due to a well-understood lag in progression from new cases to severe disease, but data suggest a correlation between COVID-19 vaccination and significantly decreased risk of death.
CDC data from 29 states earlier this year suggested daily average cases per 100,000 were approximately 5 times greater in unvaccinated persons than vaccinated persons; average daily deaths per 100,000 were actually 13 times greater.
From September 29 to December 27, the total count of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 increased by 9.2%. In that same time, average daily COVID-19 deaths have decreased by 13.7%.
Amid rising new cases, increasing vaccination and decreasing death rates—as well as ongoing research projecting the Omicron variant may be associated with less severe disease risk than previous variants—the CDC altered recommended isolation time for persons who tested positive from 10 days to 5.