COVID cases spike even as US reaches vaccine milestone

PROVIDENCE (AP) — Even as the U.S. closes in on a milestone of 200 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, cases and hospitalizations are spiking again, including in highly inoculated corners of the country like New England.

New cases in the U.S. climbed from an average of nearly 95,000 a day on Nov. 22 to almost 119,000 a day this week, and hospitalizations are up 25% from a month ago. The increases are due almost entirely to the delta variant, though the omicron mutation has been detected in about 20 states and is sure to spread even more.

Deaths are running close to 1,600 a day on average, back up to where they were in October. And the overall U.S. death toll less than two years into the crisis could hit another heartbreaking milestone, 800,000, in a matter of days.

The situation is not as dire as last year’s surge, before the public had any access to COVID-19 vaccines, but the roughly 60% of the U.S. population that is fully vaccinated is not enough to prevent hot spots.