The United States reported 1.35 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, the highest daily total for any country in the world as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant showed no signs of slowing.
The previous record was 1.03 million cases on Jan. 3. A large number of cases are reported each Monday due to many states not reporting over the weekend. The seven-day average for new cases has tripled in two weeks to over 700,000 new infections a day.
The record in new cases came the same day as the nation saw the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also hit an all-time high, having doubled in three weeks, according to a Reuters tally.
There were more than 136,604 people hospitalized with COVID-19, surpassing the record of 132,051 set in January last year.
While the Omicron variant is potentially less severe, health officials have warned that the sheer number of infections could strain hospital systems, some of which have already suspended elective procedures
as they struggle to handle the increase in patients and staff shortages.
COVID-19: U.S. hospitals crushed by surge of cases, hospitalizations
The surge in cases has disrupted schools, which are struggling with absences of staff, teachers and bus drivers.
Chicago canceled classes for a fourth day as the district and teachers failed to agree on how to deal with increased infections.
New York City suspended service on three subway lines as a large number of workers were out sick, according to its Twitter account. Companies’ plans for workers to return to office have also been derailed.
Deaths are averaging 1,700 per day, up from about 1,400 in recent days but within levels seen earlier this winter.
A redesigned COVID-19 vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant is likely needed, Pfizer Inc’s CEO said on Monday, adding his company could have one ready to launch by March.
(Reporting by Lisa Shumaker in Chicago, Aparupa Mazumder and Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Himani Sarkar)