US COVID Cases Plateau at a High Level After Weeks of Decline


After weeks of plunging U.S. Covid-19 cases, the decline in infections has stalled out at a very high level of cases, causing a plateau at time when Americans are about to kick off a busy holiday travel season.

New infections have dropped to an average of more than 74,000 per day over the past week, a 57% fall from the Delta variant’s peak level of 172,500 new cases per day on September 13th. And while that is a more positive number, the downward trajectory has leveled off in recent weeks, bouncing between 70,000 and 75,000 new cases a day for nearly twenty-one straight days, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

COVID19 hotspots across the U.S. have shifted away from much of the South, where the Delta wave hit earliest and hardest over the summer, with average daily infections in the region down by about 84% from peak levels and continuing to fall. The decline has been so steep that Florida, where hospitals were overrun as it fought one of the worst COVID outbreaks in the nation this summer, is now the state with the fewest number of average daily new cases on a population-adjusted basis.

Other Southern states that saw significant delta wave spikes including Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi also rank in the bottom 10 states measured by daily new cases per capita. Hospitalizations and deaths are also down in the region, with their seven-day average of 112 Covid patients per 1 million residents as the lowest in the country, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But cases trending in the opposite direction outside of the South. Cases are up 25% in the Midwest, 18% in the Northeast, and 4% in the West over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations, which lag reported infections, are down 9% in the Northeast over that same period but largely flat in the Midwest and West. The Midwest is currently the hardest hit, and a new analysis also shows that counties where voters chose President Joe Biden over Donald Trump have fewer cases than in counties that overwhelmingly voted for Trump.

CNBC offers a full analysis of the Johns Hopkins data here.

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