Coronavirus cases in the U.S. are on the rise as a pair of concerning omicron subvariants are spreading.
COVID-19 infections have been trending downward in the U.S. since August but increased about 10% over the past two weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 40,000 new cases are reported on average each day, but that is likely a massive undercount due to at-home tests that don’t get reported.
The uptick comes as experts are predicting a fall and winter coronavirus wave. While COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are elevated but stable, experts have raised concerns about the capacity of health care systems as the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, surge.
Experts are pushing updated COVID-19 booster shots ahead of the holidays in the hopes that they will stunt a potential coronavirus wave. But uptake of the shots hasn’t been as high as the Biden administration wants.
“It’s incredibly effective, but the truth is, not enough people are getting it,” President Joe Biden said last month about the shots. “We have to change that so we can all have a safe and healthy holiday season.”
Less than 10% of the U.S. population has gotten the new booster shots, which target the omicron strain as well as the original strain.
The vast majority of coronavirus cases in the U.S. are from the omicron variant, with two subvariants rising rapidly.
BQ.1.1 and BQ.1 made up 44% of the new coronavirus cases this week, according to CDC data. That’s up from more than 32% of infections last week.
The pair is particularly concerning because they appear to be highly contagious and adept at evading previous immunity.
“We’re really at a point that may be a crossroads here,” leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a radio interview last week. “As we’re entering into the cooler months, we are starting to see the emergence of sublineage variants of omicron.”