COVID-19 cases are continuing to dramatically decline across the U.S. as the fourth wave of the pandemic fueled by the Delta variant tapers off.
On Tuesday, officials recorded 111,162 new cases of the virus with a seven-day rolling average of 117,223, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
That figure is a decrease of 26 percent from the rolling average of 160,157 reported four weeks ago.
More than half of U.S. states, 32 in total, and the District of Columbia have seen Covid infections decline over the last week, a DailyMail.com analysis of the data shows.
Hospitalizations have also fallen with 78,943 seeking care, an 11 percent drop from the 89,266 patients recorded last week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Deaths have risen, on the other hand, with 2,543 virus-related fatalities recorded on Tuesday and a seven-day rolling average of 2,049, a 54 percent increase from the 1,328 average deaths recorded one month ago.
The growth rate of new deaths has slowed compared to the same time two weeks ago, however, when deaths had risen 91 percent over a four-week period.
Experts say that fatalities are a lagging indicator and often don’t start to decline until three or four weeks after cases and hospitalizations do, which means that deaths are expected to soon fall as well.
Additionally, not every state reports Covid deaths every day so it is likely that this figure includes deaths not reported earlier in the week.
It comes as cumulative vaccination rates continue to increase in many states with five – Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont – revealing they have given at least one dose to three-quarters of their populations.
On Tuesday, the U.S. recorded 111,162 new cases of Covid with a seven-day rolling average of 117,223, a 26% drop from the 160,157 average reported one month ago
More than half of U.S. states, 32 in total, and the District of Columbia have seen Covid infections either decline or hold steady over the last week
Deaths rose with 2,543 virus-related fatalities recorded on Tuesday and a seven-day rolling average of 2,049, a 54% increase from the 2,049 average deaths recorded one month ago, but experts day deaths are a lagging indicator and will soon decline
‘We can be pleased that in many parts of the country there has been a plateau and, indeed, a decline in the number of new cases,’ Dr William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, told DailyMail.com.
‘I just think our optimism has to be guarded and that’s because the United States is diverse country.’
Dr Stuart Ray, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, agreed that he has guarded optimism.
‘I think that my optimism comes from where cases rose rapidly and hospitalizations and deaths did not,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘We are building some resilience against this virus in the form of immunity. The optimism is here we have tools and this suggests that they work.’
Experts say the slowdown of the fourth wave can be attributed to a few factors.
One reason is that, as more people have contracted COVID-19 over the last two months, the virus is (slowly) running out of people to infect.
Another is that vaccination rates rose over the summer, mainly due to a fear of the Delta variant but also due to an increasing number of mandates.
‘Some people are going to get herd immunity from vaccine immunity and others from natural protection,’ Dr Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told DailyMail.com
‘Eventually you’ll get [the virus] even you don’t do anything, but you lose a lot of people in the meantime.’
Schaffner said there are two ways to get to a low case rates, through lots of vaccinations or from a surge in cases.
‘You can get to low case rate with vaccinations, but if you let the virus get you there, you pay a high price in hospitalizations and death. I like the vaccine route better,’ he said.
As of Wednesday, all but four states have given at least one vaccine dose to half of all residents, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Of those states, five have given at least an initial dose to three-quarters of their populations..
Vermont currently leads the pack having administered at least one dose to 77.6 percent of its residents.
Massachusetts closely follows at 77.3 percent and Hawaii (76.6 percent), Connecticut (76 percent) and Rhode Island (75 percent) round out the top five.
All five also have among the lowest COVID-19 case rates in the nation with Connecticut recording the second-lowest seven-day average of 95.1 cases per 100,00 people, per CDC data.
However, Ray does not believe the recent rise in vaccinations is behind the drop.
‘It’s such a huge decline that it’s unlikely to be due to vaccination but I don’t think it could be due to exhaustion of susceptible people,’ he said.
‘I’m very happy to see cases go down but it’s likely due to changes in behavior’ such as mask mandates.
Five states – Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont – have given at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to three-quarters of their populations
Meanwhile, former hotspots such as California and Florida are continuing to see infections decline.
California currently has the lowest level of virus transmission in the country, according to the CDC.
A color-coded map shows The Golden State colored orange indicating ‘substantial’ transmission of COVID-19, meaning a rate under 100 new infections per 100,000 while nearly every other state is colored red, indicating ‘high’ transmission.
As of Wednesday, the state is reporting a seven-day case rate of 77 infections per 100,000.
Over the past eight weeks, California has seen the test positivity rate fall to as low at 2.5 percent, according to the state health department.
Health experts say California’s high vaccination rates and other measures – including masks – helped the state deal with the Delta variant over the summer.
‘When you look at California and Florida, they have a similar vaccination rate,’ said Chin-Hong.
‘But California has also been stringent about masking, social distancing and testing. These all go in concert together.
‘And also social justice. California has been great, particularly in the Bay Area, in terms of reaching communities of color and vulnerable populations.’
Former hotspot California is reporting the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the country with a seven-day rate of 77 infections per 100,000
Another former hotspot, Florida, recorded 5,056 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with a seven-day rolling average of 6,492, the lowest figure seen since July 15
But Florida has also seen a dramatic decline from the spike in cases reported over the summer.
On Tuesday, the state reported 5,056 new COVID-19 cases with a seven-day rolling average of 6,492, the lowest figure seen since July 15.
CDC figures show that Florida has recorded 211.6 cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days.
And while this is still classified as ‘high’ transmission, it is a massive drop from last month when the state was seeing 350 cases per 100,000.
The number of Covid hospitalizations has also declined to 6,138, a drop of 24.5 percent from the past week, data from the Florida Hospital Association show.
Dr Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told DailyMail.com that he believes this recent surge left many in Florida with immunity against the virus.
He explained that according to models put together by his team, 70 percent of Florida is immune to COVID-19 either from the vaccine or through natural protection while just 30 percent are susceptible – much lower numbers than seen in other states such as California.
‘California is one of the states that have done a good job controlling COVID-19 but California has more people susceptible because fewer people died during the last surge,’ Mokdad said.
‘If you look at Florida, because they did a poor job, a lot of people got infected and a lot of people died so the virus is running out of people to infect.’
After weeks of increases, the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. has continued dropping.
Additionally, under 200,000 Americans are getting their first doses each day – the lowest this number has been since the beginning of the Covid vaccine rollout in December 2020.
‘If you haven’t been vaccinated, please do so,’ Schaffner said.
‘And if you have, try to persuade your friends and neighbors. If we do, these downward trends will continue. We have to get very high vaccine acceptance rates to get control of the virus.’
Mokdad agreed and said human behavior will be key to getting the pandemic under control.
‘COVID-19 is not going anywhere. If we let down our guard, it will get to us and we need to be extra careful
‘Masking is important but our behavior is as well. If we behave well, we won’t see a surge and will have very close to a normal fall or winter.’