U.S. Covid cases fall to less than half of peak delta levels


U.S. Covid cases have fallen to less than half of the pandemic’s most recent peak, a sign that the country may be moving past the punishing wave brought on by the delta variant this summer.

The U.S. reported an average of 72,000 new cases per day over the past week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down 58% from the most recent high mark of 172,500 average daily cases on Sept. 13. Vaccination rates have also risen in recent months — albeit more slowly than when the shots were first rolled out — to nearly 58% of fully vaccinated Americans as of Thursday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows.

“Personally, I’m optimistic that this may be one of the last major surges, and the reason for that is because so many people have been vaccinated, and also because a lot of people have had Covid,” said Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We now have a lot of immunity in the population.”

Hospitalizations are also falling. About 51,600 Americans are currently hospitalized with Covid, according to a seven-day average of data from the Department of Health and Human Services, roughly half of the 103,000 Covid patients reported at the most recent high point in early September. And while the U.S. is still reporting 1,400 daily Covid deaths, that figure is down 33% from the latest peak of nearly 2,100 deaths per day on Sept. 22.

Case counts have fallen in every U.S. region, most sharply in the South, where the delta wave hit hardest over the summer.