The number of new COVID-19 cases in the United States continues to steadily decline with increases reported in only four states.
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average number of new U.S. cases dipped to about 30,000 per day this past week with only 20,064 new cases reported on May 16.
Overall, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the past week fell 20 percent nationwide. It was the fifth straight week of decline. The 233,000 cases was the lowest weekly total since June.
The number of COVID-19 deaths decreased to 4,165 this past week, the lowest total since March 2020.
The average number of daily COVID-19 vaccinations nationwide decreased by 2 percent to about 2 million per day, the fourth straight week it has gone down. However, the decline seems to have stabilized compared with the 17 percent drop the previous week.
Overall, the United States has confirmed nearly 33 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations now stand at 25,760, about 4,000 fewer than a week ago.
COVID-19-related deaths in the United States have now surpassed 587,000.
Experts say they’re encouraged by the declining weekly numbers but noted we still need to be cautious.
“I expect COVID cases to continue to drop slowly as more people gradually become vaccinated. The drop would accelerate if more people would accept vaccine quickly,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Healthline. “In contrast, cases would rise if new variants occur that are able to evade the protection of the vaccines.”
Another expert has a similar assessment.
“I expect this trend to continue. However, I am concerned about new, more contagious variants. I am hoping that a booster is available soon and people continue to get vaccinated,” Dr. Jamila Taylor, director of healthcare reform and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, told Healthline recently.
The steady decrease in cases prompted the CDC last week to issue new mask guidelines, stating that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear face coverings in most outdoor and indoor situations.
Both experts said the decision was the correct one, but they note there’s some confusion, and things won’t change immediately.
“I do think it has been confusing to the public. Furthermore, there is no way to tell who has been vaccinated and who has not, so fear is also at play here,” Taylor said. “I think we are going to see many people continue to wear masks due to a lack of trust that others are indeed vaccinated. Despite the new CDC recommendations, many businesses are still requiring masks indoors.”
“I hope the new CDC guidelines motivate some people to accept the vaccine because there is the tangible reward of being able to be inside without having to wear a mask,” Schaffner added.
This past week, only four states reported increases in COVID-19 cases compared with 10 states the prior week.
The CDC reported that Florida had the most new cases in the past 7 days with 21,581. That’s about 4,000 fewer than the previous week.
Texas was second with 13,230 new cases this past week, about 1,000 fewer than the previous week.
New York was third with 13,137 cases and Pennsylvania was fourth with 12,428 cases. Illinois was next with 10,823 new cases.
Michigan, which had more than 19,000 cases the previous week, fell to 9,522 cases this past week.
The CDC reports that on a per capita basis, Colorado leads with 142 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 7 days.
Alabama was second with 134 cases per 100,000 residents, followed by Maine at 124 cases per 100,000 residents.
West Virginia was fourth at 113 cases per 100,000 residents while Minnesota was fifth with 107 cases per 100,000 residents.
There were 14 states that reported an increase this past week in COVID-19 deaths compared with 17 states the previous week.
Florida recorded the most COVID-19 deaths over the past 7 days with 350, a decrease of about 100 from the previous week.
Texas was second with 306 reported deaths, about the same as the previous week. That was followed by Pennsylvania with 283 deaths and California with 269 deaths, about 200 fewer than the previous week. New York was fifth at 248 deaths.
Where we are with vaccines
The CDC reports there have been more than 275 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across the country.
More than 158 million people have received at least one dose. That’s well more than half of the adult population in the country. More than 124 million people are fully vaccinated, over a third of the total population.
California has administered the most doses at more than 35 million. That’s followed by Texas with more than 21 million.
New York has administered more than 18 million doses while Florida has done more than 17 million. Pennsylvania is fifth with more than 11 million.
None of those states, however, are in the top 5 in terms of doses administered per 100,000 people:
|Most vaccinations per 100,000 residents|
|1. Vermont: 110,426|
|2. Massachusetts: 106,967|
|3. Connecticut: 105,288|
|4. Hawaii: 104,706|
|5. Rhode Island: 102,262|
|Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
Last week, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine started to be administered to children 12 to 15 years old. During the initial week, more than 600,000 children in this age group received the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.
Experts said the additional pool of eligible people for vaccination is a positive development.
“It is important to protect the children themselves from the risk of severe COVID disease as well as from long COVID problems. In addition, vaccinating children 12 years of age and older will contribute to the goal of herd immunity,” Schaffner said.
“This is extremely important,” Taylor added. “We aren’t going to reach herd immunity without children being vaccinated. Children are also yearning to get back to some semblance of normalcy, including returning to school and the ability to socialize and be with friends. This is a step in the right direction.”