Driven by the Omicron variant, the U.S. saw a record number of new cases, hospitalizations and hit an all-time high test positivity rate today.
The jump is being fueled by a 7-day average test positivity rate that was 26.3% as of Sunday, which is also a record. That number — which is generally considered a better measure of infection spread than cases because it is an average taken over the course of seven days — was up about 25% from the previous week, when it clocked in at 20.9%. The previous all-time high of 23% was seen April 3, 2020.
A test positivity rate of 26% means that one in every four Americans is testing positive for the virus. Given that it’s a seven-day average, today’s count could be higher or lower, though a record number of new cases hints at the former.
The most recent entry on the CDC Covid hospitalization tracker on January 9 shows 127,963 patients hospitalized with the virus. That tops the previous high of 125,277 Covid hospitalizations set almost exactly a year earlier on January 6, 2021. The New York Times, analyzing data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found an even greater number of hospitalizations due to the virus.
As of Sunday, 142,388 people with the virus were hospitalized nationwide, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, surpassing the single-day peak of 142,315 reported on Jan. 14 of last year. The seven-day average of daily hospitalizations was 132,086, an increase of 83 percent from two weeks ago.
The number of Americans hospitalized with the virus is likely to grow even higher, however, since hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, meaning they trail peaks in cases by about 2-3 weeks. Deaths lag another 1-2 weeks behind that.
So the current hospitalizations are based on infections that happened weeks ago, when test positivity was about 18% and the total number of new daily cases was just under 600,000. The former number is up 44% and the latter about 150% since then.
Meanwhile, the nation’s most populous state set its own record today, with 143,380 new cases, topping the 141,752 seen on January 4 of this year. (Note: Monday’s new case count in the state was 227,972, but California does not report on the weekend, rolling those numbers into its Monday count.)
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