Over the last six weeks, the hypertransmissive Omicron variant has generated its fair share of bad news in the United States.
And now, tragically, another 2,000 COVID-19 deaths, on average, every single day.
At the current rate, America will likely top its summer Delta peak of about 2,100 deaths per day later this week — and could break its all-time record (about 3,300 deaths per day) by the end of the month.
In other words, while Omicron itself might be , especially in vaccinated or previously infected people, America’s Omicron surge — the sum total of all the havoc the variant has wreaked — hasn’t been as “mild” as many had hoped.
But every coronavirus wave crests in due course, then starts to descend — and over the past few days, new signs have emerged from across the country that the tide is starting to turn once again.
So here’s some good news about Omicron — namely, that the worst of its spread may be in the rear-view mirror.
Cases are plummeting in New York City — and they’re plummeting even faster than they were rising.
New York City was the first place in the U.S. to get slammed by Omicron: Between Christmas and New Year’s, , on average, from about 15,000 a day to about 33,000 a day.
Previously, America’s biggest city had never averaged more than about 6,200 cases in a single day. By Jan. 10, it was averaging more than 40,000.
But ever since, transmission has fallen off a cliff.
According to — which is adjusted to reflect the date of diagnosis — the peak likely came on Jan. 3, when the average number of confirmed and probable cases hit 42,670.
As of Jan. 15, however, that number had plunged to 16,330 — a 62 percent drop in less than two weeks.
In the dozen days before the peak, NYC cases increased at a rate of about 47 percent — meaning they’re now going down faster than they were going up.
This is encouraging because it suggests that once other parts of the country peak, they too might see Omicron flame out even more swiftly and suddenly than it flared up in the first place.
In fact, if NYC’s experience is any indication, the bulk of the current wave of transmission could effectively subside by the middle of February,
By comparison, previous U.S. surges .
Other cities are following New York’s lead.
More good news: NYC isn’t alone.
Right after Omicron exploded in New York, it started taking off in other dense, well-connected cities across the U.S.
Between Dec. 6 and Dec. 20, for instance, cases rose by 442 percent in Houston, 285 percent in Washington, D.C., 219 percent in Miami and 170 percent in Cleveland.
Over the last two weeks, however, cases have finally started to drop in most of these hard-hit cities: by 49 percent in Cleveland, by 20 percent in Washington, D.C., by 7 percent in Miami. In , cases are down week-over-week.