The fast-spreading Omicron variant is sweeping across the country, causing COVID-19 cases to surge once again in what officials say is another winter wave of infections that’s only expected to increase.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases have gone up about 23 percent in the last 14 days. On Dec. 20, 288,579 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the US, according to the CDC, among the highest-ever single day totals since the start of the pandemic.
Despite another rise in COVID-19 cases, officials are seeking to reassure the public that with the widespread availability of vaccines and the booster campaign underway, the country finds itself in a significantly less perilous position than it did last year. Public health experts are urging those who haven’t yet been vaccinated or boosted to line up for their shots in what is an increasingly aggressive campaign to communicate to those who are unvaccinated that they are at significantly higher risk of infection and severe outcomes like hospitalization and death.
When it comes to Omicron and those who are unvaccinated, “the virus is going to find you,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned on Tuesday.
COVID cases are rising in more than half of the states in the country, CDC data show. Some of the most drastic increases are taking place in New York City, a current COVID-19 hot spot where cases have increased by 344 percent in two weeks, as well as Washington, D.C., which has seen a 390 percent increase, as well as Puerto Rico and Hawaii, where cases have surged 946 percent and 468 percent, respectively.
Infections are also increasing in every New England state but New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, COVID-19 cases have risen by 20 percent over the past two weeks, according to the CDC, while the sharpest jump in the region is in Maine, where cases are up by 48 percent in that time period.
Here’s a look at charts that show where and how much COVID-19 cases are rising.
While COVID cases stayed relatively level over the summer, infections in a number of Northeast states have been rising since the beginning of December.
Cases in Massachusetts have taken on a more gradual rise that began slightly earlier compared to the rate of infections in places like New York City, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and Florida, which have seen a sharper, nearly vertical increase.
In New York City, for example, the rate of infections per 100,000 people on Dec. 1 was 23.2. As of Dec. 20, that number was 121.
Overall COVID-19 community transmission in the United States is deemed “high,” according to the CDC’s measure, with large swaths of the US and most of the north east quadrant of the country considered to be experiencing “high” transmission.
Every county in New England is experiencing “high” COVID transmission, according to the CDC.