(NEXSTAR) — It may feel in some parts of the United States that the coronavirus pandemic is in the rearview mirror, but new cases have spiked this week in some of the country’s most populous areas, showing we aren’t yet done with COVID-19.
Cases are up roughly 60% in New York City and have doubled in Washington, D.C., according to an analysis from The New York Times. The Times notes new cases are increasing in Colorado, Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska, and New York.
This comes following two months of case declines. The average number of daily cases in the U.S. is hovering around 30,000 after a height of more than 800,000 in January. According to New York Times stats, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have all declined nationwide over the last two weeks. Hospitalizations are now at the lowest point they’ve been since the first few weeks of the pandemic.
The increase in the Northeast is being blamed on the BA.2 subvariant. Last month, WHO confirmed it was now the dominant variant around the world. At one point in March, it accounted for 75% of coronavirus cases globally.
This week, the World Health Organization said its tracking an omicron variant that’s a recombination of BA.2 and BA.1. According to the Associated Press, this variant could be slightly more transmissible than previous mutations.
Globally, WHO confirmed the COVID situation is much improved over earlier this year. In its latest pandemic report, WHO said 9 million cases were reported over the last week, a 16% weekly decline, and more than 26,000 new deaths from COVID-19. The U.N. health agency said confirmed coronavirus infections were down in all regions of the world.
The agency has continued to warn countries not to drop their COVID-19 protocols too quickly and predicted that future variants could spread easily if surveillance and testing systems are shelved.
In the meantime, the CDC advises everyone stay up to date on their COVID vaccine. Whether or not you’re “up to date” depends on your age, health conditions, the type of COVID shot you got, and how long it’s been since your last dose.
As long as the virus continued to circulate, it will continue to spawn new variants – some of which could prove more contagious, more immune-evasive, or more deadly.
“The virus will pick up pockets of susceptibility and will survive in those pockets for months and months until another pocket of susceptibility opens up,” Dr. Michael Ryan, a WHO executive director, said in March. “This is how viruses work. They establish themselves within a community and they’ll move quickly to the next community if it’s unprotected.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)