After weeks of decline, then a plateau, the average number of new cases of Covid-19 has increased by 7% from the previous week, said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. . The average of new hospitalizations linked to the virus also registered a slight increase from the previous week, she said.
More than two dozen states are reporting an increase of at least 10% in new cases from the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
And some state officials say many of the new infections appear to be from younger groups.
Fueling the increase in cases is a highly contagious – and potentially more deadly – variant of the virus. The B.1.1.7 variant, first spotted in the UK, has now been identified in 51 US jurisdictions, according to the CDC, and is expected to become the dominant variant in the country by late March or early April.
But that’s not all that is helping to increase the number of cases, experts say.
Governors and local leaders across the country recently eased restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus while health officials urged them to keep the measures in place a little longer.
Spring break crowds swelled at popular beach destinations, including South Florida, where local leaders said vacationers were more than they could handle. And air travel broke pandemic records this month, with millions of Americans on planes.
“We’re weeks away from a point where we can start doing these things a little more safely, but I think the states have just moved too fast,” Jha said.
So far, about 28.2% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to CDC data, and 15.5% of Americans are fully vaccinated.
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Heads of State are sounding the alarm
State leaders across the United States have expressed concern over their latest Covid-19 data, urging residents to double security measures a few more weeks until a sufficient population is protected from the virus .
Michigan is in the midst of another outbreak of Covid-19, a senior state health official told CNN on Sunday.
And cases are increasing the most in young people, especially those aged 10 to 19, said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan medical director.
The state is experiencing community spread, Khaldun said and attributed the increase in the number of cases to a number of factors, such as more gatherings and more mobility, economic reopenings and specific epidemics in some prisons and schools.
In Illinois, state officials said Friday they are deploying rapid response vaccination teams to several counties and expanding vaccine eligibility in response to a “possible trend of increasing hospitalizations and COVID case rate ”.
“The recent increase in hospital admissions and positivity testing is about new developments and we don’t want to go down the same path we’ve seen before and experience a resurgence of the pandemic,” Dr Ngozi Ezike, department director of Illinois Public Health, said in a statement.
“We cannot move forward if our measures step back,” added the director.
Tracking cases of Covid-19 in the United States
Also on Friday, Vermont officials reported the highest number of cases in a day since the start of the pandemic, with more than 250 new infections reported.
The increase is likely fueled by more people moving now that the warmer weather is here and by the variants circulating, said Dr Mark Levine, state health commissioner.
“Our efforts to vaccinate the people of Vermont are a race against what the virus does best: move easily from person to person,” Levine said. “Across the country, including along the east coast, the number of cases is on the rise.”
New Hampshire officials reported late last week an increase in the average number of new daily Covid-19 cases and the state’s test positivity rate. And the number of infections in people under the age of 60 is also increasing – especially among teens and people in their twenties, officials said.
The increase in the number of cases will likely continue for a few weeks, Gov. Chris Sununu said, adding that the state is likely seeing a “spring surge”.
In Pennsylvania, the governor said last week that the number of new cases and the percentage of positivity statewide had increased slightly, calling the increases “worrying.”
“As more and more Pennsylvanians get vaccinated, we must remember to monitor the mitigation measures still in place,” Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. “As the weather warms, don’t forget to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently as the virus is still present in our communities. ”
CNN’s Linh Tran and Miguel Marquez contributed to this report.