Cases of COVID-19 continue to decline significantly across the country as the recent rise caused by the Omicron variant is declining at a rapid pace.
The United States reported 330,128 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 3,546 deaths according to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. The 7-day average of new daily cases is 385,425, with 2,658 daily deaths, according to New York Times tracker.
New daily cases have fallen by almost 50% in the last 2 weeks, but the average daily death rate – which lags 4 to 6 weeks after the fall – has risen by 35%. An analysis of new federal data shows that 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since Thanksgiving.
It will take several weeks for hospitalizations and deaths to follow the trend in the number of cases; That HHS Protect Public Data Hub shows 122,627 beds in use for COVID-19. Admission rates have fallen by 16% in recent years 14 days.
Despite progress, 14 states are struggling with an intensive care unit (ICU) capacity of 15% or less, ABC News reports. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas.
US hospitals are looking for staff abroad
Meanwhile, stressed hospitals have forced health systems to search abroad for staff, according to Aassociated press. Due to a temporary cessation of employment visas during the first part of the pandemic, the United States has twice as many green cards to offer skilled professionals – including nurses.
Typically, hospitals are attracted to nurses from English-speaking countries, including Jamaica and the Philippines. Industry experts say the demand for international nurses has risen between 300% and 400% since the pandemic began.
Vaccine requirements in flux
The U.S. military said yesterday it would immediately begin removing soldiers who have been denied COVID-19 vaccination. Washington Post reports. The Pentagon announced a vaccine claim in August last year. A large majority of service members have complied with the mandate, but a small percentage have declined.
CDC COVID Data Tracker shows that 63.9% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 75.4% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 41.8% of vaccinated Americans have received a booster dose.
Meanwhile, airlines and other travel industry groups yesterday asked the Biden administration to drop the COVID-19 test requirements for vaccinated passengers before flights to the United States, CNBC reports.
Rising COVID-19 in Europe, other global headlines
- Europe reported 12 million cases over the past week, marking the highest weekly number of cases since the start of the pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) European Regional Office said today at 1 p.m. briefing. Although hospital admissions continue to rise, admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) have not increased significantly and deaths appear to be rising, said Hans Henri Kluge, MD, MPH. He said high levels of immunity to vaccination and infection, combined with a seasonal drop in cases and lower Omicron severity, could produce a “ceasefire” in the fight against COVID-19. He called on countries to take measures to protect themselves from future threats, including keeping vaccination protection high, increasing surveillance and promoting a culture of personal responsibility to take protective measures.
- Several European nations, still reporting record-breaking Omicron cases, announced that they eased restrictions, including Swedenwhich drops all its measures next week despite high case levels, and the Czech Republicwhich will start by opening restaurants and eateries to unvaccinated people.
- Beijing reported yesterday 55 COVID-19 cases in Winter Olympics athletes and staff, the highest daily total so far. The opening ceremony is tomorrow, and China, one of the few countries with a “zero COVID” policy, has a closed loop in place to separate game participants from the public.
- New Zealandafter 2 years of COVID-19 travel restrictions, today announced a step-by-step reopening plan that will allow all international arrivals in October.
- The global total today rose to 386,891,794 cases and 5,707,157 people have died from their infections, according to Johns Hopkins online dashboard.
CIDRAP News Editor Lisa Schnirring contributed to this story.