Johns Hopkins says that the U.S. recorded a stunning 1 million new COVID-19 cases on Monday as the omicron variant fuels previously unseen levels of transmission throughout the country.
The 1 million cases recorded on Monday shatters the previous daily case record of 590,000, which Johns Hopkins says was set on Thursday. Before the arrival of the highly contagious omicron variant, the record for the number of daily cases in the U.S. was just under 300,000, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says occurred on Jan. 8, 2021.
The number of those infected with COVID-19 is likely higher, as not every person infected seeks out a test and not all home tests are recorded.
The surge in new cases has caused a significant disruption in the U.S. workforce, as hundreds of thousands of people stay home to isolate themselves as they deal with infections. The CDC recently slashed the recommended isolation time from 10 days to five days in the hopes of returning more people to the workforce.
Top U.S. health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci say that as of last week, all signs point to omicron causing a less severe COVID-19 infection. And while the variant has shown to be more able to evade vaccines, the shots still provide significant protection against severe infection and death.
However, Fauci warned that omicron should "not be taken lightly," as its highly contagious nature could result in case rates that overwhelm health systems in certain parts of the country — particularly in areas with low rates of vaccination.
Indeed, the CDC reports that the U.S. is beginning to see an increase in hospitalizations linked to the surge in omicron. New hospitalizations have increased 45% in the past seven days, though the good news is that they have not yet reached the high levels seen last winter despite the record number of infections.
The CDC reports that deaths have remained relatively stagnant in the past week and have even dropped slightly. However, increases in the death rate typically lag a few weeks behind increases in new cases and hospitalizations.