The seven-day moving average of new cases was 121,437 on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU). Prior to this week, the United States last surpassed 100,000 cases per day in early October.
The number of Covid-19 deaths is also on the rise, with a seven-day average of 1,651 people dying from the virus every day on Saturday, according to JHU data. The average number of daily deaths has not been so high for more than a month.
The vast majority of new cases in the United States continue to be from the Delta variant, but US health officials detected the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus in at least 16 states on Saturday.
The first case was discovered in California on Wednesday, and by the weekend the variant had been identified in 15 other states: Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania , Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
Yet the United States is now better equipped to deal with the newly detected variant than it was at the start of the pandemic, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Thursday.
“We’re in such a different place now than a year ago because we’ve learned so much. We have vaccines available. We have a lot more tests available, and what we need to do to get through this winter is to make sure we double our vaccination strategy, ”Murthy told CNN.
The surgeon general stressed that while there is much to learn about the new variant, mitigation efforts, including masks and hand hygiene combined with physical distancing, remain effective in providing some protection.
Just under 60% of the total United States population is fully vaccinated and nearly 23% of them have received a booster, according to the latest data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Delta remains the dominant variety in the world
While the Omicron variant has the potential to become the dominant strain in the United States, the Delta variant continues to appear in 99.9% of coronavirus cases, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
“We know what we need to do against Delta, which is get vaccinated, get boosted if you’re eligible, and continue all of these preventative measures, including masking. And these are very likely to work against the Omicron variant, ”said Walensky. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
The Delta variant managed to take control of the entire country in the first weeks of summer, changing the outlook as vaccines rolled out and became more widely available. The variant continues to rage in hotspots across the country.
More than 59,000 Americans are hospitalized with Covid-19, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. And overall, hospitalizations have been on the rise for more than three weeks.
The World Health Organization said the Delta variant has supplanted other variants in most countries, making it the most common strain in much of the world.
“Even though the Omicron strain doesn’t turn out to be any worse, we are losing almost a thousand people every day to the Delta variant, and that in itself is a reason people are boosted,” said the Dr Richard. Besser, former acting director of the CDC, told CNN earlier this week.
Stricter travel rules from Monday
Dr Anthony Fauci said earlier this week that traveling during the holidays is okay, but getting the shot and boosting is a must.
“As I said and I will say it again, if you have a vaccinated situation, enjoy a family vacation in a family setting,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during ‘a CNN. World Town Hall.
For international travelers, proof of a negative Covid-19 test within one day of leaving for the United States will be required from Monday, the Biden administration announced Thursday. Previously, a test could be taken up to three days before entering the country.
Additionally, any foreign national who travels to the United States must be fully immunized, although there are no vaccination requirements for U.S. citizens for air travel, either globally or domestically.
However, the White House said this week that a vaccine requirement for domestic travel remains on the table as an option going forward.
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Jamie Gumbrecht, Jen Christensen, Maggie Fox, Travis Caldwell and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.