The Omicron variant is showing more signs that it is starting to burn out this week, as the rate of case growth is slowing in 44 U.S. states as of most recent reported data on Thursday, when compared to data Wednesday. National case growth is slowing as well, with the daily case average stagnating around 786,000 after rocketing in recent weeks.
While cases are still on an upward trajectory, the massive slowing in cases adds to the growing body of evidence that the new strain is starting to run out of people to infect – a phenomena predicted by many U.S. health experts in recent weeks.
An analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University finds that the U.S. is averaging 786,406 new cases per day, a 121 percent jump over the past two weeks, and a 30 percent increase over the past seven days. For comparison, last Thursday, January 6, the U.S. was averaging 607,064 cases per day, a 70 percent increase over the previous week then. That means week over week case growth has more than slashed in half over the first half of January.
The largest drops in case growth in recent days have been experienced in northeast, with states that were once experiencing meteoritic case growth now seeing case rates starting to taper off. In New York and New Jersey, states that experienced a more than seven-fold increase in cases early in the Omicron variant are now seeing increases of around 40 percent over the past two weeks.
New York is averaging 350 new Covid cases per every 100,000 residents every day, a 45 percent increase over two weeks. While the Empire state is still among the national leaders in infection rate, they could slowly slide down the leaderboards.
Neighboring New Jersey is also among the U.S. leaders in infection rate, with 314 of every 100,000 residents testing positive daily. Like New York, cases in the Garden state are up 40 percent over the past two weeks, a sharp slow down from the tripling of cases the state experienced the start the new year.
Other states that were recording surges in recent weeks like Maryland, Georgia and Illinois have all seen case growth taper off in mid-January, signaling the peak is near in many U.S. states.
Once the peak is reached, cases could quickly start to decline. In the UK, which usually trends ahead of the U.S., cases are doing by nearly 40 percent over the past week, a miraculous decline for a nation that many people felt was going to be totally overwhelmed by the virus only weeks ago. The nation’s capital, London, emerged as an early global hotspot for the variant, and has already seen cases fall off as well.
South Africa, the place of Omicron’s discovery and the first place to feel the effects of the highly infectious variant, has seen a massive drop in daily cases in recent weeks as well, with current daily case figures hovering around 6,500 – down 70 percent from the late December peak on 23,000 cases per day.
In the U.S., case changes are usually calculated on a two week basis. Due to the large, decentralized nature of America when compared to other countries, reporting day to day can be inconsistent. Some states log cases on all five weekdays and even weekends, while others may only report cases once a week.
To normalize for the inconsistencies, daily case counts are averaged on a weekly basis and compared to each other over two week spans to determine case change rate.
A decreasing case change rate in 44 of America’s 50 states on Thursday when compared to Wednesday – along with a decreasing national case change rate, shows that the recent changes are not just outliers, but a real nationwide pandemic trend.
Many experts have also predicted a peak being reached in the U.S. in the near future. Dr Ali Mokdad, of the University of Washington in Seattle, told the Associated Press this week that he also believes the same will occur, and that cases could even start rapidly declining soon.
‘It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,’ Mokdad, who teaches health metrics at the school, said.
Dr Pavitra Roychoudhury, a bioinformatics expert also at the University of Washington, told DailyMail.com that more tests than ever are coming back positive at the moment, and while it is overwhelming, the recent surge should peak soon.
‘My understanding is that eventually there’ll be enough people will infected that there’ll be some sort of some sort of immunity that will be established,’ she said.
‘That will result in those case numbers plateauing, and then starting to turn down again… It can’t come soon enough.’
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease and the country’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the variant will eventually infect almost everyone in America.
‘Omicron, with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody,’ Fauci said
‘Those who have been vaccinated … and boosted would get exposed. Some, maybe a lot of them, will get infected but will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death.’
As of now, 1,718 Americans are dying of Covid every day, a 35 percent increase over the past two weeks. While case growth has slowed, deaths have still slowly risen this week. According to Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these recent increases are more attributable to the Delta variant rather than Omicron.
The CDC reports that 98 percent of active U.S. cases are of Omicron, with Delta making up less than two percent. The agency found that Omicron is around 91 percent less deadly than its predecessor, though, and believes the lingering circulation of Delta is still causing the most harm.
Americans hospitalized with Covid are at record levels as well, with 148,782 people receiving treatment daily. Not all of these people are receiving treatment for Covid, though, as some people arriving at facilities to treat another condition are testing positive while there and being added to the ledger.
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that 80 percent of U.S. hospital beds are currently occupied, with 20 percent being used by Covid-positive patients.