Cases of COVID-19 are high and getting higher in the US as Americans head into a holiday week marked by nationwide travel and jam-packed family gatherings.
The country’s daily average of new cases has jumped 29 percent over the last two weeks, and the current average for daily new cases is nearing 94,000, according to data tracking by The New York Times. Previously, national cases were this high at the beginning of November last year and at the beginning of this past August—as the country headed into two of the largest surges in the pandemic so far.
While cases are largely holding steady at high levels in the South and West, the Northeast and Midwest are seeing rapid surges. In the Northeast, Connecticut is seeing the fastest rise in cases nationwide, with a 117 percent jump in new daily cases over the last two weeks. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts rank after Connecticut for the country’s sharpest case increases. Maine, meanwhile, is seeing its highest levels of cases and hospitalizations yet in the pandemic.
In the Midwest, Michigan currently has the nation’s highest levels of new COVID-19 cases and new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. Minnesota has the second highest level of cases, and North Dakota has the second highest level of hospitalizations.
The high transmission and surges come as Americans prepare for a holiday week. AAA estimated earlier this month that Thanksgiving travel will rebound to nearly prepandemic levels. The Transportation Security Administration likewise expected 20 million air travelers, similar to the number of travelers in 2019.
For people who are fully vaccinated, public health officials have largely signed off on some holiday travel and gatherings. In an interview Sunday on ABC’s This Week, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci advised that “If you’re vaccinated—and hopefully you’ll be boosted, too—and your family is, you can enjoy a typical Thanksgiving meal, Thanksgiving holiday with your family. There’s no reason not to do that.”
But about 41 percent of the US population is not yet fully vaccinated, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes 47 million adults and more than 12 million teens who are eligible for vaccination but are not yet fully vaccinated, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky noted in a White House briefing Monday afternoon.
The data continues to indicate that unvaccinated people account for the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, she emphasized. Compared with fully vaccinated people, unvaccinated people are six times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, have a ninefold risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19, and are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
“Infections among the unvaccinated continue to drive this pandemic, hospitalizations, and deaths—tragically at a time when we have vaccines that can provide incredible protection,” Walensky said.