According to Reuters, the United States reported nearly 1 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, the highest daily tally of any country in the world and nearly double the previous U.S. peak set a week ago as the spread of the Omicron variant showed no signs of slowing.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen nearly 50% in the past week and now exceeds 100,000, according to data collected by Reuters, marking the first time that threshold has been reached in a year.
The latest surge, which forced waves of cancellations from commercial airlines flights to Broadway shows in recent weeks, was disrupting plans for public schools to welcome students back from winter vacation.
Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, said it would cancel classes on Wednesday after the teachers’ union voted in favor of a return to remote learning.
In Los Angeles County, the presiding judge of one of the country’s largest court systems ordered a two-week postponement of criminal trials due to the latest wave of infections.
Nationally, the United States has seen a daily average of 486,000 new cases over the past week, a rate that has doubled in seven days and far outstrips that of any other country.
The 978,856 new infections documented on Monday included some cases tallied on Saturday and Sunday, when many states do not report.
The average number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths has remained fairly steady throughout December and into early January at about 1,300 a day, according to a Reuters tally, though deaths typically lag behind case numbers and hospitalizations.
Omicron appears to be far more easily transmitted than previous iterations of the virus. The new variant was estimated to account for 95.4% of cases identified in the United States as of Jan. 1, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday.
The World Health Organization saidthat evidence suggested Omicron is causing less severe illness. Nevertheless, public health officials have warned that the sheer volume of Omicron cases threatens to overwhelm hospitals, some of which are already struggling to handle COVID-19 patients, primarily among the unvaccinated.