Omicron looks to bring in new year with highest caseloads recorded yet

Fauci acknowledges degree of 'immune invasion' with omicron variant but says booster helps fight against virus

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The new year is quickly approaching and, with it, a substantial spike in the number of Americans infected by the coronavirus as caseloads nationwide surpass January 2021 levels.

On Jan. 8, 2021, the U.S. saw its greatest number of COVID cases to date with just over 294,000 confirmed cases, a number that held the record until this week.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 446,000 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed. 

States like New York have seen record highs with 67,090 cases reported Wednesday by state officials, a whopping 64.5% increase from the day prior.

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A registered nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive care unit (MICU) at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. 

A registered nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in the Medical Intensive care unit (MICU) at St. Luke's Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.  (AP Photo/Kyle Gree)

New York City, once the epicenter of the coronavirus, has seen cases more than quadruple since the city’s previous high in January 2021. 

On Jan. 4, 2021, the city reported 8,000 new cases. By December, the Big Apple was seeing similar caseloads, and on Monday, city officials confirmed that a staggering 33,900 positive cases had been reported. 

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States like Ohio, Texas, New Jersey and Florida have seen some of the greatest increases in the number of COVID-positive tests over the last seven days, all of which have reported a 20-24.9% positivity rate.  

Georgia has reported the largest increase in the number of cases with a positivity rate of 25% or more over the last week.

While cases have spiked, deaths from the disease have fallen by more than half. 

Jan. 13, 2021, saw the greatest number of COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began with nearly 4,050 deaths reported that day. The seven-day average hovered around 3,400 deaths per day. 

Long COVID testing lines at Rivergreen Park in Everett, Mass., Dec. 28, 2021. 

Long COVID testing lines at Rivergreen Park in Everett, Mass., Dec. 28, 2021.  (David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

But as of Tuesday, the last time the CDC updated its trending data, the nationwide average was reported at just under 1,100 deaths per day. 

"The rapid increase in cases we are seeing across the country is in large part a reflection of the exceptionally transmissible omicron variant," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a White House briefing Wednesday. "In a few short weeks, omicron has rapidly increased across the country, and we expect it will continue to circulate in the coming weeks. 

"While our cases have substantially increased from last week, hospitalizations and deaths remain comparatively low," she added. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden, said that despite there being a degree of "immune invasion" for even those vaccinated against the virus, boosters are working to lower the threat of infection.

"Bottom line message here is that boosters bring back up that degree of protection to a level that is approximating what it was before," Fauci said, referring to the vaccines' original effectiveness against the alpha and delta variants.

A nurse gives a girl a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla. 

A nurse gives a girl a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla.  (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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The top doctor has said it is still safe to gather with a small group of family and friends who are fully vaccinated with the booster and practice "similar proper prevention measures."

Though he has advised against public events or parties with 30-50 people where it is unclear if everyone is vaccinated.