Fauci: COVID Surge Is 'Almost Vertical'

But focusing on hospitalizations is now 'much more relevant'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2022 12:39 PM CST
Daily COVID Case Average Rises Over 400K for First Time
Vials of collected self-administered COVID-19 PCR tests sit in a rack at the Lincoln Park Recreation Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A new year has brought a new record in COVID infections: The seven-day average of daily cases rose above 400,000 for the first time Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reports. Since the New Year's weekend caused reporting delays, even the record 403,385 average reached Sunday is likely to be an undercount, authorities say. Top White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's This Week on Sunday that the US is "definitely in the middle of a very severe surge and uptick in cases." He described the rise as "almost vertical," saying "the acceleration of cases that we have seen is really unprecedented, gone well beyond anything we have seen before."

Fauci said hospitalizations are also up—but, encouragingly, they are not rising at the same rate as new cases. "As you get further on and the infections become less severe, it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases," he said. According to data posted by the Department of Health and Human Services, the seven-day average of COVID-related hospitalizations hit 93,327 Sunday, below the record 137,510 on Jan. 10 last year, per the Journal.

Fauci said that while this is no time to be complacent—and "hospitalizations are often late, lagging indicators"—there is a growing amount of evidence that the omicron variant causes less severe disease. Fauci said he believes opening most schools on Monday was the right call. Some systems, however, including those in Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Newark, have delayed reopening, citing rising infection numbers and staff shortages, the New York Times reports. Ontario, Canada's most populous province, announced Monday that schools would switch to remote learning until Jan. 17 at the earliest, reports the AP. The province has also shut down indoor dining, gyms, and movie theaters. (More COVID-19 stories.)

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