A fourth wave of coronavirus infections is beginning to mount in states across the nation as health experts and officials beg pandemic-exhausted Americans to stay vigilant.
The United States has reported an average of 65,000 new cases in the last seven days, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up about 10,000 cases per day since the most recent nadir two weeks ago.
Those figures are well below the January apex of the third wave of infections, when a quarter-million people a day were testing positive for the virus.
But while millions of Americans are receiving vaccinations, progress toward herd immunity has not kept pace with the new spike. Cases are rising in about half the states, led by big spikes in New York and especially New York City, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
“Our work is far from over. The war against COVID-19 is far from won. This is deadly serious,” President Biden said Monday at the White House, hours after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky pleaded for the public to keep up mitigation strategies. “If we let our guard down now, we could see a virus getting worse, not better.”
Scientists say the new spike is being driven by the emergence of variants of the coronavirus, most notably a more readily transmissible and virulent strain known as B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom. CDC data shows that strain is responsible for an estimated 13 percent of new cases in Florida and 9 percent of cases in New Jersey.