(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — COVID-19 infections have slowed dramatically in the U.S. over the past several days, averaging nearly 94,000 new cases — which is significantly down from January’s all-time high of 246,000 daily cases.
Hospitalizations have also fallen, with 69,283 people currently committed as of February 13 — far down from the January 6 high of 132,474 patients.
Health officials credit the slowdown partially to the winter holidays being over, where people gathering for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s may have contributed to a surge in new cases and deaths over the past few weeks.
In addition to the winter holidays being over, public health experts also credit the steady increase of vaccinations in the U.S., with more sites and vaccination efforts opening every week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 52 million Americans have received at least on COVID vaccine.
According to CDC data, the seven-day average of vaccinations have steadily risen from 444,000 on January 6 to 1.5 million on February 9.
Despite the promising numbers, health officials caution that the country is not out of the woods as the progress can be easily threatened by variants.
Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, warned, “A new variant, regardless of these factors that drove down the numbers, could drive an increase in cases and hospitalizations.”
Brownstein also cautioned that indoor congregations need to continue to be limited in order to help with the steady decrease in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
In addition, epidemiologist Dr. David Larsen, associate professor of public health at Syracuse University, said that prioritizing the most vulnerable populations with vaccine access will also keep more people out of the hospital.
Said Larsen, “By increasing the doses to those groups … that will likely continue the drop in hospitalization.”
“Transmission is still around, and there is still a risk. We’ve got to stay the course,” Larsen added, urging Americans to continue practicing CDC guidelines when it comes to social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing.
COVID-19 has sickened over 27.7 million Americans and killed over 488,000 people, reports Johns Hopkins University.