(NEXSTAR) – The BA.2 subvariant of omicron is driving another increase in COVID-19 cases in the United States. The number of new cases being reported every day is up 61% over the past two weeks, according to data analysis by the New York Times.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks community transmission county-by-county. Its most recent map shows more U.S. counties moving into the “high” transmission category, seen in red on the map below.
“High” transmission is defined as a county reporting more than 100 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the past week, or reporting a higher than 10% test positivity rate. About half of all U.S. counties – 49.57% to be exact – are in the “high” category, according to the CDC.
The CDC map shows community transmission is currently highest along the coasts, as well as in the upper Midwest – though there are pockets of red in every state.
The agency also tracks the severity of the pandemic by looking at hospital admissions and the number of hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients. The map below shows hospitals in the Northeast are seeing the most COVID patients.
Hospitalizations are considered a “lagging indicator” of coronavirus spread. Hospital admissions tend to spike about 10 to 14 days after we see a spike in new cases.
We can get an earlier idea of how much virus is spreading in our communities by doing wastewater surveillance. The coronavirus can be detected in wastewater even if people aren’t going to testing sites or reporting their cases to the local health authority.
But not every city and county does wastewater surveillance. The CDC has current data from about 700 places around the country. Check if your city is showing a spike on the CDC’s website.
The BA.2 subvariant of omicron, which appears to be even more contagious than its predecessor, makes up 99% of new COVID-19 cases in the country, according to current CDC data.