COVID-19 cases aren’t dropping anymore

Socially distanced events will continue to be a reality for a while. (Unsplash/)

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If you’ve lost count (or never started), we are now at week 51 of the COVID era, which officially began on March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. It’s been more than a year since the WHO announced there was a mysterious virus emerging in Wuhan, China. Since then, more than half a million Americans have died from the virus. Although we understand far more about SARS-CoV-2 now, there’s still a lot left for us to figure out.

Though a fair amount of us have likely reached COVID fatigue and a handful of vaccines to prevent the infection are either already in use or could be soon, it’s still crucial that we maintain our awareness of the severity of this crisis. Here’s a quick overview of the essential stats and figures:

US coronavirus cases

The United States has now reported more than 28.6 million cases in total, and 56,672 were reported just in the last day. We’re currently on the decline from our third—and by far largest—peak so far. Though some variants have public health experts concerned, we’ve been in a steady and marked decline for the past seven weeks. That’s a wholly positive sign.

However, the downturn has lost some of its momentum in the past 10 days and is beginning to look like the start of a plateau. It’s also possible that the apparent fall in case numbers is partially due to plummeting testing rates nationwide, making case counts artificially low as less people get tested for the virus. Certainly a large chunk of the reason is that social distancing, especially following the holidays, has made a big difference in how easily COVID-19 is spreading. For these reasons, it’s still crucial that we maintain the precautions that produced this decline— namely social distancing and mask wearing, along with getting vaccinated if you can.

Coronavirus stats around the world

Going by total case counts, the current top 10 countries for COVID-19 are:

  1. US
  2. India
  3. Brazil
  4. Russia
  5. UK
  6. France
  7. Spain
  8. Italy
  9. Turkey
  10. Germany

But what these countries generally have in common is large populations. The list of total cases per 100,000 people tells a very different story (not counting countries with fewer than 100,000 people):

  1. Montenegro
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Slovenia
  4. Luxembourg
  5. Israel
  6. US
  7. Panama
  8. Bahrain
  9. Portugal
  10. Aruba

The US is the only country on both lists, which is a testament to how poorly we’ve handled the pandemic. Every other nation with a lot of case counts generally has it by virtue of having a large population.

Israel remains on this list despite having the highest vaccination rate of any country, but recent data shows that the vaccine is working. A combination of the British variant of COVID sweeping the nation, along with a lockdown-weary population returning to normal life, has caused a massive uptick. Case numbers are expected to come down as the vaccination effort continues.

[Related: Why COVID cases are falling around the world]

The most recent hotspots

Over the past several weeks, most US states experienced their largest wave of cases since the pandemic began in March 2020. The good news is that every state seems to have surmounted the wave and new cases are now generally on the decline. Scientists aren’t sure why we’re seeing such a dramatic downturn nationwide, but speculate that it could be a combination of mask-wearing, social distancing, and the promise of spring ahead. While none of the states are currently peaking or plateauing, cases still remain at an all time high in most regions of the country.

The coronavirus death toll and hospitalization rate

At least 514,404 Americans have now died from COVID-19.

In the last week, there has been an average of 67,470 cases per day, which is a 21 percent decrease compared to the average cases per day two weeks ago. Deaths are also down 17 percent in the same period.

Even as the overall caseload in America continues to trend downward, the number of cases remains higher than at any other point in the past year. While vaccines offer a light at the end of the tunnel, including Johnson & Johnson’s newly authorized single dose, COVID-19 is essentially everywhere at this point and the effect of new variants remains to be seen. It’s just as important now as it was at the start of the pandemic to remain vigilant.

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