The United States set another daily record for new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday (Dec. 29) with almost 490,000 confirmed infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That total beat the previous record set on Monday (Dec. 27). According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker, the U.S. recorded 486,428 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and has recorded at least 400,000 new cases of COVID-19 each day this week since Monday.
Taking into account the last seven days, the U.S. has averaged more than 316,000 new cases a day. That’s the biggest number since the pandemic started in March 2020. The CDC says the number of people who actually have COVID-19 is probably higher, because those who do at-home tests often don’t report positive test results to authorities.
The rise in cases is likely due to the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19, which is growing quickly throughout the U.S. While the omicron strain of the virus is very infectious, preliminary studies show that it results in less severe disease than previous strains.
So far, the increase in new cases throughout the U.S. has not been matched with a rise in deaths, which went down over the past week. There was also only a small increase in hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the past week, according to the CDC. The positive death and hospitalization numbers could be because increases in hospitalizations and deaths usually lag behind surges in new cases, or it could be because the omicron variant is a less severe form of the disease.
Even if the omicron variant is less severe, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, has stated that the transmissible aspect of omicron could cause patients to flood health care systems in some areas to be overwhelmed. That’s especially true in areas of the country with low vaccination rates.
For daily updates on COVID-19 numbers, visit the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker here.