Jan. 28, 2022 -- The average number of daily COVID-19 cases is falling nationwide in the U.S., and hospitalizations seem to be nearing a peak.
The daily average on Thursday was about 590,000 cases, according to the data tracker by The New York Times, marking a 27% decline from two weeks ago. Although the number is still high, public health experts see the downward trend as a positive sign from record highs in early January.
“COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are starting to decline across the United States,” according to the latest update from the CDC COVID Data Tracker Weekly Review, which was published Friday.
“However, deaths are still rising, and community transmission is still high nationwide,” the summary said.
About 145,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across the country on Friday, according to the latest update from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More than 24,000 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care beds.
Hospitalizations are averaging about 150,000, which is holding steady this week and down from 160,000 a week ago. About 19,000 new patients are being hospitalized each day, down from 21,000 last week.
COVID-19 deaths, which lag behind cases and hospitalizations, are still rising. About 2,500 deaths are being reported each day, up 34% from two weeks ago, The New York Times reported.
Numbers vary across the country. States in the Northeast that faced the initial wave of Omicron cases are now seeing the steepest declines. In New York and New Jersey, daily case reports have fallen by about two-thirds from a peak in early January, the newspaper reported.
Cases are still at record levels in some states, including Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, and North Dakota, the data tracker shows.
The Omicron variant now makes up 99.9% of cases, the CDC reported Friday, and the Delta variant makes up about 0.1% of cases.
COVID-19 deaths will likely continue to climb for a few weeks as cases and hospitalizations decline, according to The Associated Press.
“Omicron will push us over a million deaths,” Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California at Irvine, told the AP.
The U.S. has reported more than 880,000 COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic — far surpassing any other country. About 52,000 U.S. deaths have been reported in the past month.
“That will cause a lot of soul searching,” Noymer said. “There will be a lot of discussion about what we could have done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable.”