US hits COVID-19 plateau: 4 updates

The BA.5 omicron subvariant has maintained its dominance since early July, accounting for 87 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases for the week ending Aug. 6, according to the CDC's latest variant proportions update

But even as the highly transmissible omicron sublineage maintains its reign, COVID-19 cases are trending down. The daily average for new cases on Aug. 9 was about 109,000, according to HHS data compiled by The New York Times. This is likely an undercount, however, since most rapid at-home tests are not included in the data. 

Three more COVID-19 updates: 

1. Cases are expected to fall over the next few weeks, modeling from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic shows. It projects cases will decrease 2.6 percent in the next two weeks — the first time the model has forecast a decline since March. 

2. Hospitalizations nationwide are down 2 percent over the last two weeks, with a daily average of about 43,000 people hospitalized as of Aug. 9. This marks the first time hospitalizations have trended downward after steadily rising from April through July. 

The plateau in hospitalizations is an "encouraging" signal that by now, BA.5 has likely infected most of the hosts it could find, Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, told CNN in an Aug. 10 interview. 

"Right now, the question is what comes next as we descend from BA.5. It could take weeks," Dr. Topol said. 

3. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have reported cases of BA.2.75. The omicron relative has numerous mutations that may make it more adept than BA.5 at spreading quickly and evading immune protection. However, it still represents a very small number of infections, with some experts saying it is not the next big variant to fret over. 


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