Post #1372: New U.S. COVID-19 record, no reduction in new case growth.

Posted on December 29, 2021


We’ve now topped the record for U.S. daily new COVID-19 cases, set at the height of last year’s winter wave.  And the growth in that number isn’t even slowing down yet.

It’s never a good sign when the data are literally off the chart.  I’ve had to rescale some of my graphs to get the latest, highest numbers to fit.

Data source for this and other graphs of new case counts:  Calculated from The New York Times. (2021). Coronavirus (Covid-19) Data in the United States. Retrieved 12/28/2021, from”  The NY Times U.S. tracking page may be found at

I could go on with a lot more superlatives, but what’s the point?  You’re going to be reading about this in the news anyway.  The only one that caught my eye in particular is that the seven-day moving average of new cases / 100K topped 300 for Washington DC today.

We knew this was going to generate a lot of cases.  It was always going to be about average case severity.  For which the case hospitalization rate is your best up-to-date proxy.

Unfortunately, the numbers that I’m seeing suggests that the U.S. experience is going to be more like that of England/Scotland (maybe one-third the case hospitalization rate for Omicron relative to Delta), and not like the South African experience (maybe one-fifth the case hospitalization rate).

I’ll do a separate post on that.

But, finally, on the brighter side, internationally, the countries I’ve been tracking all seem to have stabilized.  South Africa and Norway have already peaked.  But as of today, the U.K., Denmark, and Canada no longer appear to have runaway growth in their new case counts.  So let me leave you with those three graphs.  Shave off the high point, use it to fill in the days where no cases were reported, and in each case, the daily data suggest that new case counts are no longer rising.

That’s a slender reed, for sure.  Just a few days without cases skyrocketing.  But the timing is about right, compared to South Africa and Norway.   And if these countries are turning it around, there some hope that the U.S. will soon follow suit.

Back in the U.S.A., maybe we can be forgiven for the early part of this wave, because there’s such a long lag between infection and data reporting.  Omicron had spread before people saw any material rise in cases. While there were widespread predictions of that this would be a serious event, we’re bombarded with scary news reporting all the time.  You really can’t blame people for tuning out this particular dire prediction along with all the rest.

But we’re now 12 days into this.  The infected individuals showing up these days had fair warning.

And yet, even as we set new records left and right, for about a third of the people who were willing to wear a mask last winter (left edge of graph above), it still hasn’t dawned on them that putting the mask back on might be a good idea right about now (right edge of graph above).

In the U.S., this sure seems to be shaping up to be the “nobody gives a damn” wave.  People can’t even be bothered to put their masks back on.  On top of which, any actions to halt spread of disease are now up to the states.  And so on.  Makes you think that maybe we’re in for more of a beating than the rest of the world is.

Source:  Carnegie-Mellon COVIDcast.