CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday a more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus has become the most dominant strain in the United States and – in a postponement of the American coronavirus epidemic – more young adults are now being hospitalized with severe cases of Covid-19.
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How America’s Coronavirus Epidemic Is Changing
The daily number of newly reported U.S. coronavirus cases is rising again, nearing last summer’s high – although it is still well below the record high this winter.
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According to the Times, the average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. last week was 65,556 – a 14% increase from the average two weeks ago.
The Times data showed that as of Thursday morning, newly reported coronavirus case rates remained “high” in Washington, DC and 27 states that have historically reported a daily average of at least 15 new cases per 100,000 people a week. These states are Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Additionally, the rate of newly reported coronavirus cases rose as of Thursday morning in Hawaii, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Washington and Wisconsin, which had comparatively lower case rates, the Times reports.
Walensky said during a White House briefing Wednesday that variant B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in the United Kingdom, is now the most dominant strain in the United States.
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The increased prevalence of the B.1.1.7 variant in the US creates further concerns about a fourth surge in infections, as it is estimated to be 60% more communicable and 67% more deadly than the original version of the coronavirus.
Some of the countries currently experiencing spikes largely attribute the increase to B.1.1.7. For example, Minnesota health officials believe variant B.1.1.7 is responsible for more than 50% of the state’s recently reported cases. Sara Vetter, interim director of Minnesota Health Department‘s Public Health Laboratory, These other factors are contributing to the increase, including people who do not follow public health measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Likewise, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Officer for the White House’s Covid-19 Response, said cases are likely to increase for a number of reasons, including clusters of cases in day care centers and sports teams. Fauci also noted that newly reported cases appear to be trending towards younger Americans, which is likely due to the majority of Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 being 65 years and older.
Even as the number of coronavirus cases increases across the country, the number of newly reported deaths related to the coronavirus has continued to decline. According to the Times, 2,564 new deaths were linked to the coronavirus on Wednesday, a 31% decrease from the average two weeks ago.
Walensky said deaths have likely decreased from vaccinations in older Americans. Fauci says more than 75% of Americans age 65 and over have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. In total, 110 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, including 64 million who were fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
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Although vaccinations have accelerated in the US, data shows hospital admissions for Covid-19 have increased. According to the Times, 43,044 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized for treatment on Wednesday – a 5% increase from the average two weeks ago.
Walensky said hospitals are now seeing younger adults with Covid-19 being hospitalized for treatment. At the start of the epidemic, older Americans made up the majority of Covid-19 hospital stays, but now Walensky said, “More and more younger adults – in their thirties and forties – are being admitted to hospitals with serious illnesses.”
She added, “These trends suggest two clear truths. First, the virus has still held us, infected people and put them at risk, and we must remain vigilant. Second, we must continue to accelerate our vaccination efforts and individual responsibility.” accept to be vaccinated if we can “(Stolberg / Zimmer, New York Times, 4/7; Chow, NBC News, 4/7; Holcombe, CNN, 4/8; Ngo / Stolberg, New York Times, 4 / 7; New York Times, 4/8; Owens, Axios, 3/34).