The United States appears to be turning a corner on the Covid-19 pandemic as cases and hospitalizations fall rapidly, but that progress could be endangered by more contagious strains that have quickly appeared in other countries.
The US reported 134,300 new cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the average number of new cases over the previous seven days to 146,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University—a decrease of around 41% from a peak of almost 250,000 new cases per day last month.
The number of hospitalizations has also seen a decrease. There were 93,500 people in hospitals with Covid-19 across the US as of Monday, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project, created by journalists at The Atlantic. That’s some 29% lower than the peak of 132,400 people hospitalized with the disease in the US on Jan. 6.
Nevertheless, amid loosening quarantine restrictions and a slow vaccine rollout, the emergence of new, more contagious variants could lead to a resurgence of infections, Dr. Bill Schaffner, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University, told CNBC in an interview.
Epidemiologists are most concerned with three variants from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa that have all been found in Covid-19 patients in the US.