US daily Covid cases surge 59% in two weeks as New York records most infections since January


America’s daily Covid cases have surged 59 percent in two weeks as New York records the most infections in 24 hours since January, data shows — but hospitalizations are at just over a tenth of the peak of the last Covid wave.

Figures from states, counties and local health officials revealed the U.S. is now recording about 67,900 infections a day on average, up from 46,300 some 14 days earlier.

Almost every state is now seeing its cases tick upwards — with 11 now recording cases doubling every two weeks — while Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont are all facing the biggest outbreaks.

And in New York — at the center of the outbreak of the even more transmissible Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1 — officials yesterday recorded 10,251 cases marking their highest daily tally since January.

But there are just 18,000 patients in hospital with the disease nationwide, about 11 percent of the levels recorded at the peak of the last Covid wave. Many patients were admitted with another condition such as a broken arm, but then also tested positive for the virus.

America is also recording about 551 deaths from the virus every day, about 22 percent of the levels reached at the previous peak.

Former White House Covid advisor Dr Deborah Birx warned earlier this week that southern states should brace for a surge in Covid cases this summer, with the north set to follow in their footsteps this winter. 

New York City’s health commissioner is already threatening to bring back face masks in restaurants and requirements to show proof of vaccination should the city’s outbreak continue to spiral in the state. But economic groups yesterday warned against the move, saying it would harm many businesses.

Figures from states, counties and local health officials revealed the U.S. is now recording about 67,900 infections a day on average, up from 46,300 some 14 days earlier

Almost every state is now recording a rise in cases, with the hotspots in Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont. New York - which is at the center of the outbreak of a new sub-variant - is threatening to re-impose requirements to show proof of vaccination

Almost every state is now recording a rise in cases, with the hotspots in Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont. New York – which is at the center of the outbreak of a new sub-variant – is threatening to re-impose requirements to show proof of vaccination

The above graph shows the number of positive cases detected every day across New York. It reveals they have now reached their highest level since January

The above graph shows the number of positive cases detected every day across New York. It reveals they have now reached their highest level since January 

The above shows the number of Covid deaths registered every day in the US. These are also ticking upwards

The above shows the number of Covid deaths registered every day in the US. These are also ticking upwards 

America’s Covid surge is being driven by the Covid variant BA.2.12.1 which is now thought to be behind about two in five cases across the country, up from less than one in ten a month ago.

Studies suggest it is about 25 percent more transmissible than the sub-variant BA.2 — which has triggered upticks in cases across many European countries.

The rise in the U.S. comes as South Africa — at the center of the first Omicron wave — sees its cases nearly quadruple in a month, amid waning immunity and the spread of other versions of Omicron.

How Sweden’s Covid gamble paid off 

Sweden has logged one of the lowest pandemic death tolls in Europe despite its refusal to impose lockdowns, World Health Organization estimates suggest.

The Scandinavian nation became an international outcast when it defied scientific advice and chose not to shut down in 2020 — instead relying on people’s common sense and light social restrictions.

Now, the WHO’s analysis of excess deaths — people who died directly and indirectly from Covid — suggests the highly-controversial hands-off approach has been vindicated.

Of the 194 countries looked at by the UN health agency, Sweden’s pandemic death rate ranked 101st with 56 per 100,000 — well below the average of 90.

It also puts Sweden below most other major European nations that locked down several times, such as Italy (133), Germany (116), Spain (111), Britain (109), Portugal (100), the Netherlands (85), Belgium (77) and France (63).

But countries were previously judged by Covid death rates alone, which were skewed by differences in testing.

Excess deaths include fatalities from all causes and it is considered the most consistent way to measure pandemic death tolls because it accounts for a lack of swabbing and undiagnosed cases.

Sweden relied on citizens’ sense of civic duty to protect the population, claiming blanket lockdowns were neither ‘necessary’ or ‘defensible’. Authorities advised residents to practice social distancing, however schools, bars and restaurants remained open.

Health commissioner Ashwin Vasan — who previously sparked outrage when he said children under 5 will stay masked ‘indefinitely’ — has announced that restrictions will come back for all New Yorkers if things get worse.

‘It’s clear that if we moved into a high risk and high alert environment, we’d be seriously considering bringing those mandates back,’ he said.

The city moved from low to medium alert level this week.

It will shift to high alert if more than 10 out of every 100,000 people are hospitalized with Covid, or if 10 percent of all the city’s hospital beds are occupied by Covid patients.

Hospitalization rates are currently at seven out of 100,000, which is close to the high alert benchmark. Hospital occupancy, however, remains at a low 3.12 percent, though it’s still increasing.

As of today, 87 percent of adults and 78 percent of all New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

Dr Birx warned earlier this week on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’: ‘We should be preparing right now for a potential surge in the summer across the Southern united states because we saw it in 2020, we saw it in 2021.

‘We have to make it very clear to the American people that your protection against infection wanes.

‘What has happened each time is we have had a summer surge across the South and a winter surge that starts in the Northern plains and moves down accelerated by thanksgiving and the holidays and Christmas and Hanukah, and that’s predictable.’

Dr Birx also pointed to South Africa, which has seen its infections quadruple in a month, in the face of falling antibody levels.

‘I follow South Africa very closely, they’re good about testing, they’re good about sequencing and finding their variants,’ she told CBS.

‘[But] they are on an up slope again, with each of these surges about four to six months apart.

‘That tells me that natural immunity wanes enough in the general population after four to six months that a significant surge is going to occur again.’

It comes as Sweden is revealed to have logged one of the lowest pandemic death tolls in Europe despite its refusal to impose lockdowns, according to estimates from the World Health Organization.

The Scandinavian nation became an international outcast when it defied scientific advice and chose not to shut down in 2020 — instead relying on people’s common sense and light social restrictions.

Now, the WHO’s analysis of excess deaths — people who died directly and indirectly from Covid — suggests the highly-controversial hands-off approach has been vindicated.

Of the 194 countries looked at by the UN health agency, Sweden’s pandemic death rate ranked 101st with 56 per 100,000 — well below the average of 90.

It also puts Sweden below most other major European nations that locked down several times, such as Italy (133), Germany (116), Spain (111), Britain (109), Portugal (100), the Netherlands (85), Belgium (77) and France (63).

But countries were previously judged by Covid death rates alone, which were skewed by differences in testing.

Excess deaths include fatalities from all causes and it is considered the most consistent way to measure pandemic death tolls because it accounts for a lack of swabbing and undiagnosed cases.

Sweden relied on citizens’ sense of civic duty to protect the population, claiming blanket lockdowns were neither ‘necessary’ or ‘defensible’. Authorities advised residents to practice social distancing, however schools, bars and restaurants remained open.

However, Sweden performed worse than its Scandinavian neighbours, with Denmark logging just 32 excess deaths per 100,000 and Norway logging one fewer death per 100,000 than expected.

Experts told DailyMail.com Sweden’s approach ‘has largely been vindicated’ by the WHO findings and led to ‘much better’ outcomes than predicted and compared to most of Western Europe.

But they noted that the excess death rate in other Nordic countries — which logged some of the lowest fatality tolls in the world — need to be further studied to understand why.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk