The United States reported a 3% drop in new cases of COVID-19 last week, a much smaller drop than in the previous six weeks, and health officials warned that progress toward the global pandemic was halting.
New cases fell as much as 25% in the week ending February 7 and 23% in the week ending February 21 before the plateau last week, according to a Reuters analysis of US state and county reports.
The country logged an average of over 68,000 new cases per day for the week ending February 28, with deaths averaging 2055 per day.
“I am still deeply concerned about a potential change in the pandemic’s trajectory. Recent CDC data continue to suggest that the recent declines in cases have leveled off to a very high number,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Walensky said she was concerned that some local authorities were rolling back restrictions on masks and social distancing just as more contagious variants of the virus were spreading. “We are completely losing the hard-earned land we have gained,” she said.
Twenty-nine out of 50 states reported more new infections last week compared to the previous seven days, while only seven states in the previous week reported weekly increases, according to the Reuters analysis.
New York had the most times per 100,000 residents last week, followed by New Jersey and South Carolina.
As of Sunday, 15% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine and 7.5% has received two doses, according to the CDC. The country administered an average of 1.6 million shots per day last week.
Deaths linked to COVID-19 increased by 5.5% during the week ending February 28 to 14,387. In total, more than 513,000 people have died from the virus in the United States, or one in 636 residents.
The average number of COVID-19 patients in US hospitals fell by 15% to 52,000 last week, the lowest since early November, according to a Reuters report.