Covid cases now declining in 41 states as the eastern half of the country moves past Omicron surge

Covid continues to recede in the United States, and after weeks of surging cases nationwide, daily counts are starting to trend in the right direction nationwide. As of Tuesday morning, 41 U.S. states are now recording declining daily Covid infections over the past two weeks. Those that are continuing to see cases grow are generally less dense states where it took longer for the Omicron variant to take hold.

Overall, the U.S. is recording a 36 percent decrease in cases over the past seven days, averaging 469,770 per day, down from 736,221 a week ago. It is the first time since January 3 that the daily case average has dropped below a half million, a milestone in the drop in cases being recorded by the country.

The east coast states that fueled the record Omicron surge during December and early January – causing cases to peak around 800,000 per day last month – are now fueling the sharp decrease in cases as well. 

New York and New Jersey far outpaced the rest of the country when Omicron first arrived in the U.S. at the end of last year. Both states are now recording declines of over 70 percent over the past two weeks, though, as the variant quickly ran its course after burning through New York City and nearby areas.

Other east coast states in the mid-Atlantic and New England that suffered  early surges are seeing cases come down as well. Maryland is currently the leaders in case decline among U.S. states, recording a 75 percent drop over the past two weeks.

Case declines are now spreading into the Midwest as well, showing the variant burning out even among states that experienced the secondary Omicron wave. Wisconsin has experienced a 71 percent drop in cases over the past two weeks, with Ohio also recording a sharp drop of 67 percent.

Experts predicted a quick decline in cases in early January, as Covid generally runs on two month cycles. Cases also began to show signs of tapering off in major population centers like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles in the early weeks of the new year.

Falling case counts in recent weeks has also loudened calls to lift remaining Covid related mask and vaccine mandates still in place in some parts of America. 

Dr Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, said on CNBC’s Squawk Box Monday that people would not be willing to continue to abide by these restrictions as cases decline. 

‘Society isn’t going to tolerate these things in perpetuity. The mitigation we’ve adopted has to be used to deal with epidemic peaks, not be a constant way of life,’ he said.

‘We are going to have to be willing to withdraw these mitigations.’ 

A precedent has been set as well, with some of the countries that were struck hardest by the Omicron variant already laying out plans for post-pandemic life.

Earlier this month, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the end of all pandemic related restrictions, including the end of mask mandates, some capacity restrictions, and work from home orders. Testing requirements for Britons to return to the nation will be dropped in the coming weeks as well. 

This comes after a miraculous turnaround for the nation that was struck early by the variant, and was struck so hard some officials feared the nation’s hospital system would be overwhelmed.

The UK is averaging just under 90,000 Covid cases per day as of Monday morning, a far fall from the peak of over 180,000 cases earlier this month.

Denmark was among the hardest hit nations in the world by Omicron in December as well. Cases in the country are still steadily rising, up to 45,000 per day, they are clearly cresting and deaths have remained low for the Nordic country throughout the pandemic.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced last week that Covid was no longer a ‘socially critical sickness’ and that the country will end all pandemic-related restrictions on February 1.

Deaths from the virus are still rising in the U.S., though, as the metric often lags behind cases by a few weeks. America is suffering 2,452 Covid deaths everyday, a 12 percent increase over the past week and the highest average since February 2021 – the tail end of the pandemic’s deadliest surge yet.

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Every single state along the east coast, and every state east of the Mississippi river is currently recording a decline in cases over the past two weeks. 15 states have seen their daily case averages slash in half over the past two weeks.

In New York, cases jumped ten-fold last year when Omicron arrived, and New York City emerged as a global Omicron hotspot in mid-December. 

The variant seems to have burned out since then, though, with cases declining 73 percent over the past two weeks – and nearly 50 percent over the past week alone.

A cluster of states in New England that suffered large case numbers despite high vaccination rates are starting to see their surges come to an end as well. Rhode Island had the highest infection rate in America during the mid-January despite having vaccinated 79 percent of its population. 

The Ocean state seems to have gotten its outbreak under control since then, though, with cases down 68 percent over the past two weeks.

Vermont is the leader in vaccination rate, with just over 79 percent vaccinated , is also recording a 66 percent case decrease after weeks of surging cases late in 2021. 

Connecticut (68 percent case decline) and Massachusetts (67 percent) are also recording sharp case decreases over the past two weeks after surges earlier this winter.

Case declines have now spread nationwide. Oklahoma, one of the final states that was still seeing an upward trend in cases recently has finally shifted to the other side, with cases now decreasing 16 percent over the past two weeks. 

Many of the the last remaining states that still have cases trending upwards are concentrated in the northwest region of the U.S. Montana is still the leader in case growth, suffering a 61 percent increase over the past two weeks. Neighboring Idaho (43 percent increase), Wyoming (31 percent) and nearby Washington (18 percent) are also seeing cases tick upwards.

Alaska, a state over 1,6000 miles from the U.S. mainland, is seeing cases jump by 20 percent over the past two weeks as well.

While case growth seems to be moving to the northwest, the nine U.S. states recording more than one daily Covid death per every 100,000 residents are along the east coast, in the Midwest or southwest. 

Ohio is still the leader in daily Covid deaths, with 1.32 of every 100,000 residents testing positive for the virus every day. Neighboring Indiana is second, with the Hoosier state recording 1.19 deaths per 100,000 residents. New Jersey, among the states with the largest fall in cases over the past two weeks, is still logging 1.03 Covid deaths every day for every 100,000 residents.