The daily average of new coronavirus cases in the United States ticked up 1 percent on Friday as BA.2, the highly transmissible Omicron subvariant, continued its rapid spread. It was the first uptick after weeks of recovery from the Omicron-fueled winter surge.
The rise in average cases continued a second day. As of Saturday night, an average of roughly 30,700 cases had been reported each day in the United States over the past week, a 2 percent increase from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker. That number is almost certainly an undercount, given that many asymptomatic cases go undetected and the results of the widely used home tests often do not make it into official counts.
Caseloads have stopped falling rapidly across the United States and have started to rise in recent days in states including Alaska, Colorado, Rhode Island, Vermont and New York. Cases have doubled in Washington, D.C., and have risen about 60 percent in New York City since the last week of March. But Friday’s and Saturday’s numbers were the first signs of a national increase.
Experts have been warning that another surge could be coming in the weeks since BA.2 began sweeping through Europe, where past virus waves have been harbingers of what is to come in the United States.
A number of high-profile coronavirus cases have been reported in recent days, including dozens linked to a dinner last Saturday attended by many of Washington’s elite. Among those who have publicly announced being infected with the virus after attending the dinner are Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo; Attorney General Merrick B. Garland; Valerie Biden Owens, the president’s sister; and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California. And several Broadway shows canceled performances after their stars, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Daniel Craig, tested positive.
Nationally, the lagging indicators of hospitalizations and deaths continue to fall. New reported deaths are down 29 percent, to an average of roughly 565 deaths per day, while hospitalizations are down 20 percent, to roughly 15,100 per day.
However, five states have reported increases in hospitalizations over the last two weeks, though the raw numbers remain relatively low. Vermont’s hospitalizations have risen 54 percent, to an average of 27 a day; New Hampshire, 24 percent, to 40; Connecticut, 20 percent, to 167; Maine, 12 percent, to 121; and Delaware, 10 percent, to 113.