COVID-19 hospitalizations reach the lowest they’ve been since early November

icu covid doctor hospital
A doctor checks the vital signs of a patient at the Intensive Care Unit of Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California on January 3, 2021.

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations are less than half of what they were during their peak last month. 
  • Cases and deaths have also been on the decline, but experts warn against complacency. 
  • Public health experts worry that new, more transmissible strains could cause another surge. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the country have been in decline over the past several weeks and this weekend dropped lower than they’ve been since early November.

Data from The COVID-19 Tracking Project shows that as of Saturday, 58,222 people were hospitalized, a more than 50% decrease from a peak of 132,476 hospitalizations on January 6. 

It’s also the first time that hospitalizations dropped below 60,000 since November 9. 

Coronavirus cases overall are on the decline. CNN reported that there was a 29% decrease in cases over the previous week, the largest drop during the course of the pandemic so far.

Data compiled by The Washington Post shows that new daily cases in the US hit a peak of 248,200 on January 12 and have dropped since. On Saturday, the COVID-19 Tracking Project reported 72,000 new cases. 

In a briefing, researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said that declining cases could be attributed to vaccinations and declining seasonality, which they said could help keep cases on the decline until August. 

Over 42 million Americans have received at least their first shot of a vaccine, with more than 17 million receiving both doses, CDC data shows. 

While some experts have said the vaccinations may have played a role in decreasing cases, others, like Tom Frieden, a former Director of the CDC, told CNN that he doesn’t “think the vaccine is having much of an impact at all on case rates.” Frieden said it’s the “staying apart, wearing masks, not traveling, not mixing with others indoors,” that’s resulting in the decline. 

While cases and hospitalization may be on the decline, experts still warn that measures like wearing masks and socially distancing should remain in place to maintain the downward trend and not trigger another rise, especially with new and more transmissible variants. 

“It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place,” Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rochelle Walensky said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

A study found that the Coronavirus variant that originated in the United Kingdom is spreading quickly across the US and is likely to become the most dominant variant in many states by next month. 

A new assessment found that this variant, called B.1.17, could be 30% to 70% deadlier than the original virus.

“This is why we’re telling people to not stop masking, not stop avoiding indoor social gatherings quite yet because we don’t really know what’s going to happen with this variant,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency medicine physician with Rhode Island’s Brown University, told CNN. “And we saw what happened last winter when we didn’t take Covid seriously enough.”

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