(Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in the United States rose 9% to more than 431,000 last week, the first time since January that cases have increased for two weeks in a row, according to a Reuters analysis of state and county data.
Thirty-three out of 50 states reported more new COVID infections in the week ending March 28 compared with the previous seven days, according to the Reuters analysis. New Jersey, Michigan and New York posted the biggest increases relative to the size of their populations.
Health officials said some state and local governments were prematurely dropping precautions, such as wearing masks, and pointed to more infectious variants of the virus circulating.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Monday said she felt a sense of “impending doom” after looking at recent data trends.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope but right now, I’m scared,” she said at a regular COVID-19 news briefing.
“I’m calling on every single one of you to sound the alarm,” Walensky added. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”
Deaths from COVID fell 10% to 7,000 last week, or about 1,000 per day, according to the Reuters analysis. Health officials believe the country’s vaccination effort can limit deaths even with rising cases.
For a fifth week, daily average COVID vaccinations set a record, with 2.7 million shots given per day last week. As of Sunday, 28% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose and 16% is fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. There have been more than 30.9 million coronavirus cases and 562,649 deaths since the pandemic hit the U.S.
(Open https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta in an external browser to see a related graphic.)
The average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals fell 0.5% to 36,000. Hospitalizations have fallen for 11 weeks nationally, but they are rising in 24 states, up from 18 in the prior week. The largest percentage increases were in Hawaii, up 57%, and Michigan 49%.
(Graphic by Chris Canipe, writing by Lisa Shumaker, editing by Tiffany Wu)