For the first time in months, daily hospitalization rates and new COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. are both expected to increase over the next four weeks, according to updated forecast models used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The expected increases come after weeks of steady increase in infections across the country, following the removal of masking requirements and mitigation measures in many states and cities.
The forecast now predicts that approximately 5,000 deaths will occur over the next two weeks, with Ohio, New York and New Jersey expected to see the largest number of daily deaths in the coming weeks.
“We are still in the middle of a pandemic, to be sure – there is no confusion about that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s best expert on infectious diseases, to Foreign Policy last week.
The forecast models show that 42 states and territories in hospital admissions across the country, including New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, are expected to see increases in the next two weeks.
Nationally, an increasing number of COVID-19-positive patients have already been admitted to hospitals, requiring care, federal data show.
Since the end of last month, the number of daily hospital admissions has slowly increased, especially in the Northeast, according to CDC data. And in the last week, admissions have increased by 20%, and emergency room visits have also increased by 18%.
On average, more than 2,200 virus-positive Americans enter the hospital every day – a total increase of 20% in the last week, reports the CDC. This is also the highest number of patients in need of care since mid-March.
In total, there are about 18,300 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in hospitals across the country, an increase of 18% in the last two weeks, Department of Health and Human Services reports.
Although totals remain significantly lower than during other parts of the pandemic, access levels are now rising in all regions of the country.
At the national level, the number of new infections has reached its highest point in almost two months. More than 60,000 new cases are officially reported every day, an increase of 27% in the last week, according to the CDC.
In the Northeast and New York-New Jersey regions, the infection rate has increased by 64.8% and 54.8%, respectively, over the past two weeks.
Since last summer, dozens of states have moved to closed public test sites, with more at-home COVID-19 tests now available. Most Americans do not report their findings to officials, which is why experts say the number of infections is likely to be significantly underestimated.
Health experts say a confluence of factors is likely to drive the nation’s recent viral resurgence, including easing masking requirements and other COVID-19 restrictions, as well as highly contagious omicron subvariants, which have been estimated to be between 30% and 80% more transmissible than the original omicron strain.
The BA.2 sub-variant, BA.2.12.1, which was first discovered in the domestic market last month in the state of New York, continues to rise steadily in the United States, according to recently published federal data. The sub-variant now accounts for 36.5% of new COVID-19 cases nationwide, while in the New York-New Jersey area it accounts for the majority – almost 62% – of new cases.
With vaccine immunity declining and the presence of variants of concern growing, health authorities continue to urge the public to be vaccinated and boosted to prevent the risk of serious illness and hospitalization.
“We hope we do not see a major increase [in cases] as we enter autumn, but it must turn out. We will have to wait and see, which is why we are still encouraging people to get vaccinated, ”Fauci said last week. “If you have not been vaccinated, or if you have been vaccinated and are eligible for a booster, be sure to get it now.”