CDC boss says COVID-19 hospitalizations are 'comparatively low' as US records most new cases in a single day
- Hospitalizations and deaths are "comparatively low" in this wave of COVID-19, the
- The news comes as new daily cases reached record levels in the US.
The US is seeing fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations per case than in previous waves, suggesting
The news comes as new daily reported cases reach record highs, topping 277,000, according to CDC data. The new wave is being driven by infections from the Omicron variant.
"While cases have substantially increased from last week, hospitalizations and deaths remain comparatively low right now," Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, told reporters at a White House briefing.
She warned that it was not clear whether the trend would last.
"This could be due to the fact that hospitalizations tend to lag behind cases by about two weeks," she said, "but may also be due to early indications that we've seen from other countries like South Africa and United Kingdom of milder disease from Omicron, especially among the vaccinated and the boosted."
Here are the stats:
- Cases are skyrocketing, with new cases up 60% compared with the previous week, according to Walensky. New daily cases have risen from about 177,000 on average on December 22 to about 277,000 on Tuesday.
- New COVID-19 hospitalizations are up, but not in proportion to cases. There were 14% more daily new hospitalizations than the previous week — from about 8,000 average daily new COVID-19 hospital admissions on December 20 to about 9,400 on Monday.
- New COVID-19 deaths were down 7% compared to the previous week — standing at about 1,100 average new daily COVID-19 deaths reported on Tuesday, down from about 1,200 on December 20.
Omicron is driving the latest wave of cases in the US, with recent estimates suggesting the variant makes up 59% of new cases in the US.
Vaccines seem to still be protecting against the worst COVID-19 disease, hospitalization, and death — with South Africa reporting two doses of vaccine reducing the risk of hospitalization by 70%.
But the variant seems to be better at causing mild illness among vaccinated people.
Data suggests boosters could enhance the level of protection against symptomatic disease, although a recent study suggested that this protection might be short-lived.
About 62% of the US population has received two doses of vaccine, and about a third of those have gotten a
"Boosters are critical in getting our approach to Omicron to be optimal," Walensky said, urging people to get their third dose.
In response to the criticism, Walensky argued that this period of isolation is what the CDC thought "people would be able to tolerate" and that it was shortened partly to ensure hospitals are adequately staffed.
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