The U.S. is now averaging more than 700,000 new coronavirus cases per day, a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows.
The country reported about 4.91 million cases in the week ending Saturday. That’s more cases reported in seven days than the country reported in April, May, June and July 2021 combined. At the latest pace, eight Americans are reported positive every second.
The last five days of U.S. cases are the five single-highest case counts of the entire pandemic.
“I would not be surprised at all if we go over a million cases per day,” Fauci told News 4 New York in an interview Saturday.
And while the prevalent omicron variant is milder on a per-case basis, fast-swelling numbers of new cases are burdening hospitals. A federal report released Saturday shows about 138,000 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds, up 32% from the previous week.
But Fauci, President, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, told the TV station the dismal numbers could start to decline by month’s end.
“I can’t predict accurately, because no one can. But I would hope that by the time we get to the fourth week in January … that we will start see this coming down,” Fauci said.
– Mike Stucka
Also in the news:
►Illinois Gov. Pritzker agreed to provide 350,000 coronavirus tests to the Chicago Public Schools as the district scrambles to get its 350,000 students back in classrooms. School closed Wednesday, with no remote learning, after teachers voted to teach online only. Schools will not reopen Monday unless a deal is struck, schools CEO Pedro Martinez said.
►The world reported 15.9 million new cases in the week ending Saturday, or 26.2 cases per second. The pace of new cases is up 64% from a week earlier.
► Guilford County Schools in North Carolina will suspend school bus service to eight of its high schools starting Monday because of what it called a “severe bus driver shortage made worse by rising COVID-19 cases.”
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 59 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 837,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 305.3 million cases and 5.48 million deaths. More than 207 million Americans – 62.4% – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘What we’re reading: What about us? The 16 million Americans who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are “questioning our protection” against COVID-19 – but stuck waiting for a third shot. Read the full story.
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The omicron-fueled coronavirus infections slamming the U.S. are causing a breakdown in basic functions and services. Many police, fire and emergency medical services, hospitals, schools and government agencies have employed an all-hands-on-deck approach. But it’s not clear how long that can last. And many businesses are also struggling. It’s latest illustration of how COVID-19 keeps upending life more than two years into the pandemic.
“This really does, I think, remind everyone of when COVID-19 first appeared and there were such major disruptions across every part of our normal life,” said Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and preparedness at the global health nonprofit Project HOPE. “And the unfortunate reality is, there’s no way of predicting what will happen next until we get our vaccination numbers – globally – up.”
America is again facing a COVID-19 testing crisis as many people are struggling to find at-home kits, scammers are profiting off fake rapid tests, and some regions are limiting who can access community testing sites.
Indiana is limiting who is eligible for rapid testing at state and local health department testing sites. San Diego health officials are urging residents to only get tested if they have symptoms. Some New York City testing sites are prioritizing testing teachers to keep schools open. And San Francisco will prioritize testing people with COVID symptoms over asymptomatic people.
Adding to testing woes, the Federal Trade Commission warned Americans this week about fake at-home testing kits “as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand.”
Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations on several ships because of COVID-19, canceling some sailings and pushing back one ship’s return to cruising. While most cruises still haven’t been canceled, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against cruise travel in the coming weeks. The Royal Caribbean news comes as the Ruby Princess Cruise ship – the same vessel that played host to a devastating coronavirus outbreak in 2020 – reportedly allowed a dozen infected passengers to disembark in San Francisco.
From Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, cruise ships operating in U.S. waters reported 162 cases of COVID-19 to the CDC. From Dec. 15 to Dec. 29, cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters reported 5,013 COVID-19 cases to the CDC.
Contributing: The Associated Press