The global case tally of confirmed cases of the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 climbed above 106 million on Monday, with the U.S. accounting for more than 27 million of that total, even as cases continue to decline and the post-holiday surge abates.
The U.S. added 87,889 new cases on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, and at least 1,301 people died, although those numbers may be underreported given reduced staffing at hospitals on weekends. The U.S. has averaged 118,016 new cases a day in the past week, down 31% from the average two weeks ago.
Hospitalizations are also steadily declining, according to the COVID Tracking Project. There were 81,439 COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals on Sunday, down from 84,233 a day earlier. The number has now declined for 24 straight days and stands at its lowest level since Nov. 18.
Average daily cases are now down 60.3% from their peak and average daily hospitalizations are down 33.3%, according to Raymond James analyst Chris Meekins.
“While time is passing from the frequent congregations of the holiday season which contribute to increased cases, and a larger portion of the population (up to one-third) likely already contracting the virus; in our view vaccinations are the leading contributor to the improving state of the pandemic in the U.S.,” Meekins wrote in a note to clients.
And while for now, vaccine demand is outpacing supply, “that will likely change within two months when it will become critical to convince the half of the population not as eager to get the vaccine that they need it despite the lower case counts,” he wrote.
Dr. Ashish Jha, dean and professor of health services, policy and practice at the Brown University School of Public Health, said the U.S. is at a crucial phase given the new variants of the virus that are circulating and that are more infectious than the original virus.
“This is not the time to get sick – not that it ever was the time to get sick,” he told MSNBC in an interview. “But we’re so close to the finish line. We’re asking people to hold on, and we’re not asking people to hold on forever. We’re talking about the next couple of months.“