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September 25, 2023

U.S. reaches 1 million daily Covid cases amid spread of omicron variant

U.S. reaches 1 million daily Covid cases amid spread of omicron variant

The United States hit 1 million new Covid-19 cases on Monday, according to data compiled by NBC News, underscoring the threat of the omicron variant as the third year of the pandemic gets underway.

Washington, D.C., and Florida have had the largest jump in new cases in the last two weeks. Washington saw Covid cases increase by 902 percent in that time period, while cases in Florida went up 744 percent, according to an NBC News analysis of state and local health data.

The record-breaking single-day total could be a reflection of delayed reporting as a number of states did not announce data on New Year’s Eve and during the holiday weekend.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the omicron variant now accounts for up to 95 percent of U.S. test samples reviewed last week, according to modeled projections. But that projection could differ from later estimates.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, warned last month that the omicron and delta variants were fueling an alarming trend.

“I am highly concerned that omicron, being highly transmissible and spreading at the same time as delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,” Tedros said at a news conference in Geneva on Dec. 29.

However, even as U.S. case counts rose in recent weeks, reported deaths did not appear to be surging — suggesting that omicron leads to a more mild form of Covid, especially among people who have been vaccinated.

“The general trend that I’m seeing is, if you’re boosted and you get Covid, you really just at worst end up with bad cold symptoms. It’s not like before where you were coughing, couldn’t say sentences and were short of breath,” Dr. Matthew Bai, an emergency medicine physician at New York City’s Mount Sinai Queens, told NBC News late last month.

“There are obviously exceptions — like if you start out with a very weakened immune system, your immune response won’t be as strong with a booster. But in your average person, a booster’s definitely going to make a difference,” Bai added. 

The average number of daily hospitalizations in the U.S. was 93,281 as of Monday, an increase of 35 percent in the last two weeks.

In a separate development Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a 30-day state of emergency to combat a rise in Covid cases, mobilizing 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to help state and local health officials.

Daniel Arkin is a reporter for NBC News who focuses on popular culture and the entertainment industry, particularly film and television.

Joe Murphy is a data editor at NBC News.

Nigel Chiwaya is a senior data editor for NBC News.

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