Covid hospitalizations are at their lowest levels since the U.S. began keeping records at the start of the pandemic, according to an NBC News analysis of data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Average hospitalizations fell to 16,760, lower than the previous low of 16,808, set before the delta wave in June. Hospitalization figures from the past few days could change as hospitals finalize numbers.
Since March 2020, when HHS began recording hospitalizations, as many as 159,000 people have been hospitalized in a day with Covid, a peak that was set Jan. 20 during the omicron surge. On average, the country has reported 63,000 hospitalizations a day.
In the past two weeks, hospitalizations have fallen by 32 percent, from an average of 24,595 to 16,760.
President Joe Biden declared in his State of the Union address this month that “Covid-19 need no longer control our lives.”
Covid cases are declining, as well, to an average of 32,000 new cases a day, a 7 percent fall in the last two weeks. At the same time, the BA.2 subvariant of omicron became the dominant variant in the U.S. this week, and cases have started to rise slowly in the Northeast. It’s unclear whether BA.2 will cause a wave; some experts remain optimistic that it won’t.
Vaccinations, which have slowed to a trickle, could soon be opened to children younger than 5, the last vaccination-ineligible group in the U.S.
Five states set records Thursday for fewest average Covid hospitalizations: Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Wyoming. Wyoming reported nine people hospitalized, a rate of close to 1 hospitalization per 100,000 residents, the lowest among states.
The U.S. Virgin Islands reported the lowest rate among all jurisdictions, with fewer than 1 person per 100,000 residents hospitalized.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, said new antiviral treatments were keeping more infected people from seeking treatment during the omicron era.
“Those interventions … clearly work well to keep people out of the hospital,” he said at a White House briefing last week.