The latest COVID-19 surge appears to be easing in the Northeast, but the Southeast and Mountain West are starting to see hospitalizations rise, as subvariants of omicron pop up around the country.
Hospitalizations are down nearly 40% in Vermont and have decreased around 20% in Massachusetts and New Hampshire over the past two weeks.
Connecticut, Maine and New York state have seen decreases of about 10%, according to a New York Times tracker.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention downgraded the risk in New York City from high to medium alongside a drop in cases and hospitalizations, though the city still considers its risk level to be high and recommends indoor mask-wearing.
Reported U.S. infections are stuck at around 100,000 per day, though it is an undercount due to the number of home-test results that aren’t reported. Known infections have leveled off and decreased a bit over the past two weeks, meaning hospitalizations should ease if the trend holds.
However, parts of the South and Mountain West have seen a recent uptick in cases, prompting a rise in patients.
Alabama and Louisiana both saw hospitalizations increase by roughly 70% over the past two weeks. Idaho’s daily average of around 85 patients is an over-60% increase from 14 days ago.
“There isn’t any doubt this so-called surge or sweep across the country is moving in an irregular fashion. And as it gets to states that are under-vaccinated, such as my own, you will see increases in hospitalizations. There certainly will be local increases,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
U.S. hospitalizations are averaging about 28,000 each day, a relatively low level compared to the rest of the pandemic. Hospital admissions are rising at a slower pace than overall infections due to immunity from prior infection and vaccinations and the use of Pfizer’s Paxlovid antiviral drug.
“All of those things kind of mix together in uncertain ways,” Dr. Schaffner said.
Panagis Galiatsatos, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who treats patients in Baltimore, said he is seeing “barely any ICU-level cases” while other hospital admissions are “a mixed bag, but mainly mild to moderate disease.”
He is most worried about a new surge in the fall.
Some public health experts warn that even as variants like BA 2.12.1, which accounts for six in 10 cases in the U.S., move to places beyond the Northeast there could be new lineages that take their place and cause surges sooner than the cold months.
“We should expect COVID to remain dominant as we head into the early summer,” said Peter Hotez, an infectious diseases expert at the Baylor College of Medicine.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.
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