Omicron Could Be Peaking In The US — But Experts Urge Caution

By The Hill
Posted on 01/22/22 | News Source: The Hill

A downtick in COVID-19 cases is raising hopes that the omicron wave has peaked in the United States. 

To be sure, new case numbers remain high and hospitals are still overwhelmed in many areas. But, especially in the earliest hard-hit states like New York and Massachusetts, cases are clearly declining, and experts say cases appear to have peaked on a national basis as well.  

The U.S. seven-day average of new cases fell from about 798,000 on Jan. 15 to about 744,000 on Jan. 19, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the first downturn since mid-December, when the highly transmissible omicron variant took hold and cases began a rapid spike.

“I think we’ve turned the corner,” said Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California-San Francisco.  

While cases may be falling nationally and in early hit states, experts caution that the U.S. is a large country and some areas, such as Western states like Montana and Wyoming, may take longer to peak.

They also caution that hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators — meaning they could continue to rise for a few weeks after cases begin to fall. There are a record 160,000 people hospitalized with the virus, according to a New York Times tracker, and about 2,000 people dying every day from it.