(AP) — With the brutal omicron wave rapidly loosening its grip, new cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. are falling in 49 of 50 states, even as the nation’s death toll closes in on another bleak round number: 900,000.
The number of lives lost to the pandemic in the U.S. stood at over 897,000 as of midday Friday, with deaths running at an average of more than 2,400 a day, back up to where they were last winter, when the vaccine drive was still getting started.
New cases per day have tanked by almost a half-million nationwide since mid-January, the curve trending downward in every state but Maine. And the number of Americans in the hospital with COVID-19 has fallen 15% over that period to about 124,000.
Deaths are still on the rise in at least 35 states, reflecting the lag time between when victims become infected and when they succumb.
But the trends are giving public health officials hope that the worst of omicron is coming to an end, though they caution that things could still go bad again and dangerous new variants could emerge.
Los Angeles County may end outdoor mask requirements in a few weeks, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. But that is unlikely to happen before the Feb. 13 Super Bowl, which will draw as many as 100,000 people to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.