The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed on Friday that several significant trends related to COVID-19 are now gaining momentum across the nation, marking the first substantial increase in virus spread witnessed in months.
The Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions are experiencing the most substantial surges, according to the agency’s updated weekly report. However, virtually all parts of the country are now observing an acceleration in COVID-19 cases.
Emergency room data and wastewater sampling from the region encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin indicate some of the steepest increases this season. In this Midwestern area, infection rates among nursing home residents have surged in recent weeks, reaching levels not seen since the peak of last winter’s COVID-19 wave.
During a House committee hearing on Thursday, CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen highlighted the resurgence, attributing it to a post-Thanksgiving increase following travel and gatherings. She emphasized the return to an upward trajectory after a decline from the late summer wave.
Currently, nearly 2 million Americans reside in counties categorized as having “high” COVID-19 hospitalization levels, prompting the CDC to recommend masking and other precautions in public. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans are in communities with “medium” hospitalization levels, warranting additional precautions for at-risk individuals.
Dr. Cohen also noted an uptick in other respiratory illnesses preceding the rise in COVID-19 cases, consistent with previous fall and winter virus seasons. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is approaching its peak in many southern states, exceeding pre-pandemic hospitalization levels but expected to peak later than last year.
Flu trends are on the rise nationwide, with expectations of further increases into December. Despite this, influenza has not yet surpassed COVID-19 levels in emergency room data.
Cohen highlighted the importance of distinguishing between respiratory viruses, stating that COVID-19 remains the leading cause of hospitalizations and deaths. Health officials are monitoring additional causes of pneumonia-like illness, such as mycoplasma bacteria, reported among sick children in Ohio.
While some countries abroad are experiencing increased bacterial infections in children, Cohen reassured that U.S. trends do not indicate atypical respiratory illnesses in children so far. She emphasized that the current situation aligns with typical winter respiratory virus patterns, with most children recovering at home.