COVID-19 cases rising across U.S. ahead of summer


NEW YORK (NewsNation) — COVID-19 cases and concerns are rising as summer begins, putting health officials on high alert. The impact of this is believed to be greater than the delta and omicron strains amid a new COVID-19 subvariant.

Coast to coast, the U.S. is now averaging more than 90,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cases are elevated in almost every state, but the Northeast and Midwest are the hardest hit. The CDC strongly recommends people living in nine New Jersey counties wear their masks in all public places

The highly contagious BA.2 subvariant is the dominant strain sweeping across the country, and scientists are monitoring more subvariants that appear to be more contagious.

Cases are spiking as more people are going out again to public places without wearing masks and more places have relaxed mask requirements.

New York City health officials have upgraded its COVID-19 alert status from medium to “high risk.”

The city has averaged around 3,600 reported new cases of COVID-19 per day over the past week, a number that is likely an undercount because it doesn’t include positive tests done at home.

New York City first introduced its color-coded alert system in March — the color green means the risk is low, and red signals very high.

The new alert means COVID-19 is highly spreading and putting pressure on the health care system, according to the city health department. Government actions for high alert, which is orange, include an increase in testing and vaccination capacity and face masks in all public indoor settings.

The CDC risk level for Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island is currently “medium,” while the Bronx is still “low.” But much of the surrounding metropolitan area has already moved into the CDC’s “high risk” category, the level at which masks are recommended in all indoor public places.

In New Orleans, health officials upgraded from low alert level to medium risk. The increase in COVID-19 cases is affecting the city’s hospitality sector for a city that relies heavily on tourism.

“If we as a community can adopt short-term but widespread indoor masking again, we can get back to not needing a mask much quicker,” said New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno.

Case counts average 155 a day, five times higher than a month ago, and wastewater tests show increased coronavirus concentrations in both residential and tourist areas, New Orleans Health Department Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno said. She noted that many people use home tests, so the case count “is a big under-representation.”

In Illinois, 14 of the state’s counties are at the medium level but health officials said the city of Chicago is, unfortunately, approaching “the high risk” category.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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