As the deadliest month of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. came to end, the nation is seeing signs of progress including plummeting rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and accelerating vaccinations rates.
Daily cases have dropped 45 percent since the latest peak on January 11, according to data from the COVID-19 Tracking Project. There were 131,341 new cases reported on Wednesday.
Hospitalizations have fallen 26 percent since they peaked most recently on January 12, the data shows, with 96,534 reported in the hospital as of Wednesday.
Forty-four states are seeing a decline in cases, Johns Hopkins data reveals, with just Alabama, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia, on the upswing.
In addition, as the country headed into February, COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 100,000 for the first time in two months.
Currently, 92,880 patients are hospitalized with the virus, the lowest figure seen since November 29 and falling nearly 30 percent from a peak of 132,474 on January 6, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project.
The U.S. death toll has surpassed 446,000 – with an average of about 3,200 deaths per day – but experts say fatalities are a lagging indicator and will likely increase over the next couple of weeks before declining as those severely infected over the winter holidays pass away.
However, most officials say that, with fewer than two percent of the population fully immunized against the virus, it is too soon to say that vaccines are causing the decline.
So the question remains: why are cases falling so fast in the U.S. and can the nation stay ahead of the fast-spreading mutations of the virus?
Public health experts believe that the decline in cases is likely a combination of a higher number of people who’ve had the virus than official counts suggest – meaning as many as 90 million people have antibodies against the virus – and fewer people traveling and holding gatherings than did over the winter holidays.
It’s not just the U.S., however. The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday it has also seen declining new infections globally over the past three weeks. Our World in Data graphs show the daily infection rate has fallen by 30 percent in that period.
But Director-General Tedros Adhanom warned against relaxing restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus on the heels of the good news.
‘Over the past year, there have been moments in almost all countries when cases declined, and governments opened up too quickly, and individuals let down their guard, only for the virus to come roaring back,’ he said.
Read more: Why ARE ‘Covid’ cases plummeting? New infections have fallen 45% in the US and 30% globally in the past 3 weeks but experts say vaccine is NOT the main driver because only 8% of Americans and 13% of people worldwide have received their first dose. WHY? See meme …