December 13, 2021
Most of the U.S. will see significant growth in COVID-19 cases during the next four weeks, according to the latest forecasting models by the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Large metropolitan areas, especially those in the Northeast, are already seeing a major increase in cases following Thanksgiving, and that trend is expected to continue.
"Why? Simply stated, the large amount of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings undermined the nation's pandemic footing and has elevated disease burden in areas of the country that were fortunate to have lower case rates before the holidays," the forecasters wrote.
Case numbers in New York City are expected to double throughout December, the forecasters said. Similar growth could happen across Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
Overall, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising across the U.S. but remain below levels seen during the summer and last winter's surges, according to The New York Times. The increase is still being driven by the Delta variant, though it remains unclear how the Omicron variant, which has been detected in 27 states, could affect the trends in coming weeks.
During the past week, the U.S. has reported an average of more than 120,000 new cases each day, the newspaper reported, which is an increase of 38% from two weeks ago.
The daily average of COVID-19 hospitalizations is around 64,000, which marks an increase of 22% from two weeks ago. More than 1,300 deaths are being reported each day, which is up 26%.
Numerous states are reporting double the cases from two weeks ago, stretching across the country from states in the Northeast such as Connecticut and Rhode Island to southern states such as North Carolina and Texas and western states such as California.
The Great Lakes region and the Northeast are seeing some of the most severe increases, the newspaper reported. New Hampshire leads the U.S. in recent cases per capita, and Maine has reported more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day period during the pandemic.
Michigan has the country's highest hospitalization rate, and federal medical teams have been sent to the state to help with the surge in patients, according to The Detroit News. Michigan's top public health officials described the surge as a "critical" and "deeply concerning" situation on Friday, and they requested 200 more ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile.
Indiana, Maine, and New York have also requested aid from the National Guard, according to USA Today. Health officials in those states urged residents to get vaccines or booster shots and wear masks in indoor public settings.
The Omicron variant can evade some vaccine protection, but booster shots can increase efficacy and offer more coverage, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday.
"If you want to be optimally protected, absolutely get a booster," he said on ABC's "This Week."
In addition, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced a statewide mask mandate, which will take effect on Monday. Masks will be required in all indoor public spaces and businesses, unless the location implements a vaccine requirement instead, the news outlet reported.