The United States reached a record high of daily Covid-19 cases on Wednesday. The country recorded a seven-day average of over 282,000 cases as the Omicron variant has begun to dominate in all 50 states.
Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 database reported on Wednesday morning that the seven-day average for positive cases had surpassed 282,117. This constitutes a new record for the U.S. since the start of the pandemic. The previous high was 250,000, set almost a year ago, after the holiday surge, on January 11, 2021.
The striking figure had been expected after the US recorded an astounding half a million new infections on Monday.
“The rapid increase of cases we are seeing across the country is in large part a reflection of the exceptionally transmissible omicron variant,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said to the press during a White House briefing.
“We expect (omicron) will continue to circulate in the coming weeks,” she added.
CDC shortens quarantine amongst record high case levels
The alarming surge in cases comes amidst the CDC’s decision to shorten infection isolation time. Federal health officials announced on Monday that their new recommendation is to isolate for five days instead of ten.
The updated recommendation comes as the Omicron variant surges across the country, setting records for new infections per day.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said that the new guidelines “balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”
The seven-day national average for new daily cases shot past 214,000 on Sunday -– representing an 83% increase in two weeks.
President Joe Biden held a conference call with the country’s governors on Monday where he plainly stated that:
“There is no federal solution,” adding that “This gets solved at the state level.”
“Ultimately it gets down to where the rubber meets the road, and that’s where the patient is in need of help or preventing the need for help.”
Omicron hits airlines hard
The wave of Omicron infections has massively affected daily life in the US, causing many retail stores, restaurants, and airlines to be understaffed.
Tens of thousands of Christmas weekend travelers had to change their plans.
Commercial airlines canceled 656 flights within, into or out of the US on Sunday, slightly down from nearly 1,000 from Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.
The Christmas holidays are typically a peak time for air travel, but the rapid spread of the Omicron variant has led to a sharp increase in Covid infections, forcing airlines to cancel flights with pilots and crew needing to be quarantined.