The director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said Monday a recent rise in Covid-19 cases — especially in the Northeast and Midwest— should serve as a "warning sign to the American people" as states continue to reopen despite high case numbers and more transmissible variants.
CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday the seven-day average of U.S. daily cases was approximately 53,000 cases per day, a slight increase from last week, and hospital admissions are "relatively stable" at just over 4,500 daily instances.
While deaths are still going down at slightly below 1,000 per day, that decline has slowed, with Walensky calling the trends "very concerning."
Walensky noted the country is particularly starting to see a "significant rise in cases" in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.
According to CDC data , New Jersey has the highest number of Covid-19 cases per capita in the country—314.5 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days—followed by Rhode Island (239.5), New York (213.8) and Michigan (210.1).
According to data analyzed by the Times and reported Friday, the New York City metro area now has the second-highest rate of new infections next to Idaho Falls, Idaho.
27. That's how many states have seen their seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases rise by five percent or more, according to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed and reported Monday by CNBC .
"These statistics should serve as a warning sign to the American people," Walensky said Monday, noting the "continued relaxation of prevention measures while cases are still high and while concerning variants are spreading rapidly throughout the United States is a serious threat to the progress we have made as a nation."
What We Don't Know
It's unclear what's causing the case spike in the Northeast states and Michigan specifically over other states, particularly as they keep some restrictions in place including mask mandates.
The rise in cases comes as states nationwide have rushed to relax Covid-19 guidelines following an initial rapid decline in cases following a holiday season surge. The states now seeing higher case rates have taken some steps to relax measures—New Jersey, Michigan and New York City all expanded capacity on indoor dining , for instance, and New York has opened a number of businesses like movie theaters—though they haven't gone as far as some states that have taken more extreme steps like getting rid of their mask mandates and are so far not seeing as high Covid-19 metrics. A new and more transmissible variant was recently detected in New York City that accounted for 39% of cases sampled in New York City as of March 10, however, which has likely spread to New Jersey as well. Michigan also has reported 616 cases of the more transmissible and deadly B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, according to the CDC, putting the state behind only Florida and California in the number of cases linked to the strain.
What To Watch For
Health officials have warned the U.S. could face a trajectory similar to that seen in Europe , where countries across the continent are now facing new lockdown restrictions and case surges after an initial plateau.
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