Covid cases in America are continuing to grow, rebounding after months of declines coming off of the massive winter Omicron-surge. Like the surge this winter, deaths have remained low despite a rise in cases, showing the decreasing danger the virus poses as more mild strains continue to circulate.
The nation is currently averaging 60,251 Covid cases every day, a 52 percent jump over the past week – and the first time the 60,000 mark was reached since March 1. In the time since then, daily cases continued to plummet down to 30,000 per day, where the figure sat for weeks in mid-April.
Deaths from the virus are at one of their lowest points during the pandemic, even as cases begin to sharply rise once more. The nation is averaging 327 deaths from the virus every day at the moment, a ten percent drop over the past week – maintaining the least deadly period of the pandemic since August 2021.
Despite the overall mortality of the virus having faltered in recent months, U.S. regulators are still pushing to expand vaccine eligibility to include children aged six months to five years old, and to even open up fourth doses to all Americans.
Covid cases have more than doubled over the past two weeks in eight U.S. states, with the cases even tripling in West Virginia.
These case rises are largely attributable to the BA.2 ‘stealth’ variant, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant that erupted over the winter.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the strain makes up 68 percent of Covid cases in the U.S.
Another version of the variant is beginning to emerge as well. Two weeks ago, the CDC began to officially track the new BA.2.12.1 strain – a sub-variant of the ‘stealth’ variant.
It first emerged in New York earlier this month, before becoming the dominant strain in the region, and spreading across much of the rest of the country. The strain makes up 28 percent of total cases in America.
The rate of COVID-19 deaths in New York City, the hardest struck city in the world by the virus, has shrunk to only two per day, as the virus recedes in America and a majority of the population heads towards a return to ‘normal’.
In New York, where around 90 percent of the adult population has received one shot of the vaccine, life has largely returned to normal, even as some official attempt to keep Covid guidelines in place.
The Big Apple is one of the shrinking list of cities in the U.S. to still have some Covid related mandates in place, with travelers still required to mask in airports, on the subway and on local busses. Just across the Hudson river, in New Jersey, travelers are not required to do so.
‘I think right now, is a good time to give people the choice about how they may want to protect themselves,’ Cedric Alam, a Newark resident who travels into Manhattan every other day and regularly flies out of JFK, told DailyMail.com earlier this month.
‘If people think they should wear a mask, then they should go right ahead and wear one, while people who think they will be fine without one should have the freedom to travel bare faced.’
Some key health experts are instead saying the Covid is basically over, though. Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert said Tuesday night that the pandemic phase of the virus was over.
‘If you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don’t believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we’re not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don’t know how often that would have to be,’ he said.
‘That might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low. But, right now, we are not in the pandemic phase in this country. Pandemic means a widespread, throughout the world, infection that spreads rapidly among people.
‘If you look at the global situation, there’s no doubt this pandemic is still ongoing.’
He then backtracked on his statements the next night.
‘We certainly can’t say the pandemic is over. It is not over,’ he told CBS News on Wednesday.
Experts at the World Health Organization (WHO), which have been among the more cautious voices during the pandemic so far are still issuing dire warnings, though.
‘[Rolling back of Covid surveillance] makes us increasingly blind to patterns of transmission and evolution. But this virus won’t go away just because countries stop looking for it. It’s still spreading, it’s still changing, and it’s still killing,’ Ghebreyesus said.
Across America, and in some parts of Europe, Covid testing and tracking has been significantly scaled back as officials move to divert funding that went into pandemic related efforts elsewhere.
In the U.S., funding used to cover the costs of free testing for many Americans has been pulled. Hospital treatment for the virus is no longer covered by the federal government either. Cuts to testing have been so severe that some experts warn over 90 percent of cases may be going undetected in the U.S.
‘The threat of a dangerous new variant remains very real – and although deaths are declining, we still don’t understand the long-term consequences of infection in those who survive,’ Ghebreyesus continued.
‘When it comes to a deadly virus, ignorance is not bliss. WHO continues to call on all countries to maintain surveillance.’