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COVID-19 cases are continuing to fall in the United States, according to the New York Times tracker, though the number of deaths from the disease again neared 4000 on Wednesday.
The United States has averaged 141,146 cases a day in the past week, down 30% from the average 2 weeks ago. For the first time since November, the country is averaging fewer than 150,000 cases a day, according to the tracker.
However, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that new COVID-19 variants popping up widely could threaten that progress.
“Although we have seen declines in cases and admissions and a recent slowing of deaths, cases remain extraordinarily high, still twice as high as the peak number of cases over the summer. And the continued proliferation of variants, variants that likely have increased transmissibility, that spread more easily, threatens to reverse these recent trends.
“Based on contact tracing of recent variant cases, not wearing masks and participating in in-person social gatherings have contributed to the variants’ spread,” she said at a White House COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
The number of cases worldwide neared 104 million on Wednesday and the US numbers made up 26.4 million of that total.
As of Thursday, COVID-19 had killed at least 454,000 people and infected about 26.6 million in the United States since January 2020, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
The Hopkins tracker found that per capita North Dakota, South Dakota, and Rhode Island have reported the most cases while New Jersey and New York have recorded the most deaths.
According to the COVID tracking project, hospitalizations for COVID-19 nationwide were down to 91,440 on Wednesday.
The tracking report noted, “Compared to last week, the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is down by 10% or more in 38 states.”
Even in hard-hit Los Angeles County, infections and case numbers are on the decline, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, officials, warn the numbers remain well above presurge levels. Over the past week, 201 city residents have died every day.
Reuters also reports that Anthony Fauci, MD, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said despite some good news in the numbers, Americans should continue to follow social distancing guidelines. He added that double-masking may add protection.
Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Science News, and Nurse.com and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick