COVID-19 cases, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, are rising sharply in many New England states, far surpassing the peaks seen during last winter’s surge.
States in the region have seen dramatic increases in the number of COVID cases they are reporting. Across New England as a whole, cases have risen 126 percent over the past two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In that time period, Connecticut and Massachusetts have seen the sharpest increase in cases, with Connecticut seeing a 209 percent increase in the past two weeks and Massachusetts seeing a 172 percent increase.
Maine is the only New England state seeing the number of COVID cases drop, according to CDC data. In two weeks, the number of reported cases has decreased by 24 percent.
Among all New England states, the three counties with the highest COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people are in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts’ Suffolk County, which contains Boston and its surrounding communities, has the highest case rate per 100,000 people, with 1,919 cases, according to CDC data. Suffolk County is followed by Hampden County, which has 1,841.45 cases per 100,000 people, and Essex County, which has 1,716.53 cases per 100,000.
Here’s a state-by-state look at the situation in New England:
Cases and hospitalizations have been rising sharply in Massachusetts, with cases soaring above where they stood at this point last year and hospitalizations hovering near last year’s peak.
Last week, Massachusetts reported its highest single-day number of cases for multiple days in a row, with the 21,397 confirmed cases reported on Dec. 31, 2021 becoming the state’s highest daily count yet.
On Jan. 3, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts stood at 14,913, according to CDC data, more than double the highest weekly average of cases of 6,475 cases on Jan. 12, 2021 during last year’s winter surge.
Hospitalizations have been rising in Massachusetts, with the seven-day average in the state at 282.43on Jan. 2, according to the CDC, slightly higher than when the weekly average peaked last winter at 278 hospitalizations on Jan. 5, 2021.
Unlike cases and hospitalizations, the number of deaths has lagged compared to previous surges, CDC data show.
On Jan. 3, the weekly average of deaths stood at 34, according to the CDC, compared to last winter’s peak when that number reached 77 on Jan. 28, 2021.
In Rhode Island, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases began rising sharply at the end of December, CDC data show.
The weekly average of cases in Rhode Island reached a pandemic-high of 1,933 on Dec. 30, CDC data show, higher than the state’s previous peak of 1,333 cases on Dec. 8, 2020.
Similarly to Massachusetts, hospitalizations in Rhode Island have just recently surpassed where they stood last winter. The state on Jan. 2 had a weekly average of hospitalizations at 42.57, slightly higher than the December 2020 peak of 40.29, according to CDC data. Deaths in Rhode Island are also lagging far below previous peaks.
Connecticut, the state in the region that has seen the sharpest increase in COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, according to CDC data, is seeing more than double the average number of cases from last winter’s peak.
On Jan. 3, the seven-day average of cases reached 6,379, according to the CDC. Its previous seven-day record of cases was 3,017 on Jan. 13, 2021. The weekly average of hospitalizations has also surpassed last winter’s peak, while the weekly average of deaths is still trailing significantly behind where it stood in previous waves.
The most recent CDC data out of Vermont has put the weekly average of COVID-19 cases far above previous totals.
On Jan. 3, the weekly average stood at 939 cases, significantly higher than previous peaks in the state.
After beginning to drop toward the end of December, hospitalizations also appear to be rising once again in the state.
New Hampshire and Maine
New Hampshire and Maine have seen a more gradual rise in COVID-19 cases than other New England states like Massachusetts and Connecticut, but the average weekly number of cases in both states have reached record levels in the most recent surge.
In both states, hospitalizations reported in mid-December also surpassed levels seen during previous surges. But unlike other New England states, deaths have increased, nearing levels reached during last winter’s peak.
In Maine, holiday-related testing disruptions make it too early to say for sure, but cases could have reached a plateau. According to CDC data, cases in the state have dropped 24 percent in the last two weeks.
Amanda Kaufman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.