New daily coronavirus cases in the United States continue to decline with 59,620 infections reported on Saturday.
National hospitalization figures also continue to drop with 41,401 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and a dramatic drop in the number of patients in the Midwest, in particular.
According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, the Midwest and West are now both under 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations per million people.
In total, COVID-19 cases dropped about 5 percent in the U.S. this week and hospitalizations by almost 16 percent week on week.
Yet the Tracking Project urged caution, despite the dropping numbers, due to the rising number of cases linked to various variants of the virus.
The warning comes as a lab testing company reveals that it is likely more than 20 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. this week were of the more contagious variant that was first reported in the United Kingdom.
Lab testing company Helix has revealed that it is likely more than 20 percent of new COVID-10 cases in the U.S. this week were of the more contagious variant that was first reported in the United Kingdom.
New daily coronavirus cases in the United States continue to decline with 59,620 infections reported on Saturday
Deaths are continuing to drop with 1,674 reported on Saturday and 12,927 reported for the week ending March 4
According to data from the COVID Tracking Project , the Midwest and West are now both under 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations per million people, as hospitalizations across the country also decline
The COVID Tracking Project shows a marked drop in hospitalizations over the past seven straight weeks
FLORIDA: Afternoon partiers crowd the outdoor and indoor areas of Cafe Ibiza in Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday. It comes as experts warn of the UK variant despite the continued drop in cases, deaths and hospitalizations across the country
According to an analysis of data from Helix, the B.1.1.7 variant is spreading across the country at a rate similar to that seen in countries where it led to a spike in cases.
However, it warns that there is not yet enough genomic sequencing — the process required to screen positive coronavirus samples for variants – to effectively determine the extent of the spread.
Previously only 0.5 percent of all the country’s cases were sequenced since the start of the pandemic but this has been ramped up to about 1 percent of cases in February and 3 percent of tests in the last two weeks and the threat from variants grew.
That still remains below the 5 percent recommended by experts to adequately show the variant spread.
Helix suggests that there were most likely tens of thousands of cases attributed to B.1.1.7 in the U.S. last week but that only 2,672 official cases have been recorded because of the low level of sequencing.
It remains to be seen whether the variant will cause a resurgence of the virus in the U.S. or if vaccine roll-out and health and safety measures will mitigate the spread.
Other variants have been identifed in the U.S. such as one from South Africa and another from Brazil, yet B.1.1.7 makes up the majority of the variant cases and is expected to become the dominant strain over the next month.
The UK variants share in total cases in the U.S. is already doubling around every ten days.
Yet experts told the New York Times they remain hopeful as new cases are not showing any large spike in states where the UK variant has already been identified.
Daily cases and deaths are declining but not at the pace they once were, the Tracking Project said
Winter storms caused a backlog in the reporting of cases which led to a working small spike last week (pictured)
Weekly deaths from COVID-19 have been falling for the past five weeks, as pictured above
Weekly cases, hospitalizations and deaths all dropped for the week ending March 6, as pictured
‘I am encouraged by the declining case counts in the most heavily affected states,’ said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told the Times.
‘I’ve been watching Florida closely, which has the highest share of B.1.1.7. Case counts have plateaued there in recent days but are not resurging. The longer we can hold the line, the more time we have to roll out vaccines, which will protect individuals, particularly those at highest risk of severe illness, and slow transmission over all.’
They also believe that if the variant does cause a resurgence, vaccines and immunity levels may prevent it from having the same crippling effect it had in the UK over the holidays.
‘Although total cases have been going down in recent weeks, B.1.1.7 cases have not, which means that it may not be surprising to see cases start rising again in regions that have high levels of B.1.1.7 transmission,’ William Lee, vice president of science at Helix, told the Times.
‘I think even if cases start going up again, the impact on hospitalizations and mortality may still be mitigated by vaccinations and higher levels of natural immunity than we had in the past.’
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are currently at a low not seen since October, before holiday gatherings and travel caused several spikes after Thanksgiving and the New Year.
And deaths are continuing to drop with 1,674 reported on Saturday and 12,927 reported across all states and territories for the week ending March 4.
This week also marked the seventh straight week of sharp declines in hospitalizations, even as a backlog in data caused by the recent winter storms caused some anomalies in the data for new cases.
There had been fears of a further Spring spike after higher cases were reported last week, but the COVID Tracking Project suggests that it was simply a brief rise.
However, it notes that ‘cases still remain extremely high, and have only this week dipped below the peak of the summer’s case surge’.
It warned that while cases are not showing a surge, they are also not showing a significant drop off, with the decline in new infections beginning to slow.
‘The sustained decline in cases and hospitalizations is very encouraging, but with multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 gaining footholds in US cities, it remains vitally important to further reduce the virus’s spread via masking, social distancing, and avoiding indoor gatherings,’ it said.
FLORIDA: Bikini-clad college students have descended on Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break despite the pandemic
FLORIDA: Beachgoers flock to South Beach during Spring Break in Miami Beach on Saturday
MISSISSIPPI: Students of The University of Mississippi, aka, Ole Miss, party and enjoy a night out on the first Friday night after Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves lifted the state wide mask mandate, as pictured above
MISSISSIPPI: Bars in downtown Oxford were packed with students shoulder to shoulder drinking and partying Saturday
MISSISSIPPI: The Graduate Hotel which is open to full capacity after the mask mandate was lifted in Mississippi
The warning comes as Mississippi residents celebrated their first few days free of a mask mandate on Saturday by packing into bars and restaurants, and shopping without face coverings.
Texas’ mask mandate is also set to end on Wednesday after Governor Greg Abbott decided to lift all COVID-19 restrictions and open up the state despite it still having among the highest new daily case counts in the country.
And in Florida, Spring Breakers have descended to party in hotspots such as Miami and Fort Lauderdale as officials fear that the influx of thousands of college students from across the U.S. could lead to a spike in cases as it did last year when the pandemic was just beginning.
Nationwide, more than 28.9million Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and the death toll stands at 524,319.