The U.S. registered more than 1 million Covid cases in a single day, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant spread rapidly across the country, upsetting officials and destroying hopes of a return to normalcy in early 2022.
The 1.08 million cases recorded on Monday are the highest daily score since the start of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, although the number has been skewed by a test lag from New Year’s holiday weekend.
Even with the backlog, the number of Covid-19 cases reported in the U.S. for a few weeks is at record highs as Omicron has been circulating through the population. On Monday, the seven-day moving average reached a record 469,919, according to the Financial Times data tracker, which is double the equivalent of a week earlier.
Case numbers have more than doubled in 27 states in the past week, rising fourfold in North Carolina and Louisiana. The seven-day moving average per 100,000 people in Washington stood at 2,135, while in New Jersey and New York it stood at 1,929 and 1,820, respectively, according to the FT data tracker.
The deluge of business has led to major disruption of travel as staff shortages force airlines to cancel thousands of flights. It has also led to some employers, including Wall Street’s largest banks trace back about plans for a return to office in January.
Hospitalizations and deaths have not yet matched the peaks seen earlier in the pandemic, although there is always a delay of one to two weeks between infections and progression to serious illness and death.
The seven-day moving average for Covid-related deaths in the U.S. stood at 1,243 on Monday, according to the FT data tracker, up 28 percent over the past month but well below its peak of about 3,400 during last year’s winter boom.
There are 112,495 people in the hospital with Covid and 20,927 of them are in ICU, according to federal data, higher than in recent months but below the peaks seen during the winter boom last year.
Federal, state and local officials in the US are still struggling to adapt to the sharp rise in business.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month reduced the recommended isolation period for people who have Covid-19 to five days from 10, as long as they were no longer symptomatic.
However, the agency received backlash from health experts because they did not set out its recommendations or a person should test negative before isolation is terminated.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Tuesday that government health officials will explain the shorter isolation time and test requirements this week.
President Joe Biden will address the nation later Tuesday on the Omicron variant.