COVID cases increase across country

The increase is being attributed to a sub-variant of the virus’ Omicron variant, known as BA.2.
UK masks

COVID-19 cases are again on the rise across the country, after a two month decline, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

At the height of the previous omicron surge, reported daily cases reached into the hundreds of thousands. On April 14, the seven-day rolling average for daily new cases rose to 39,521, up from 30,724 two weeks earlier, according to data from Johns Hopkins collected by the Associated Press.

The increase is being attributed to a sub-variant of the virus’s Omicron variant, known as BA.2.

Omicron swept through the U.S. in late-2021 and early-2022, resulting in return to such protocols as mask wearing and working from home. Philadelphia earlier this week reinstated a mask mandate, as have some universities in Washington, D.C.

In addition, average number of daily new cases in Rhode Island and New Hampshire has risen by more than 100% in two weeks, according to the Hopkins data.

The new variant does not appear to be making those infected as sick as the earlier versions, with the pandemic having started in March 2020. And nobody expects a peak nearly as high as the last one, but an increasing number of hospitalizations is expected, the wire service also reports.

However, how much BA.2 will spread still seems unclear. 

"We don’t know how high that mountain’s gonna grow," Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray, an infectious disease expert at Hopkins, told the wire service. 

One concern about getting an accurate count is that cases are being under reported – in part because mass testing sites have closed and more people test at home without reporting their infections or skip testing altogether.

Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the numbers will likely keep growing until the surge reaches about a quarter the height of the last “monstrous” one. BA.2 may well have the same effect in the U.S. as it did in Israel, where it created a “bump” in the chart measuring cases, he said.

The United States' high level of immunity – from vaccination or past infection – is helping to keep the virus from spreading, health experts also say.

As of Thursday, the highest rates of new COVID cases per capita over the past 14 days were in Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.