- Latest official data showed Covid hospitalizations have increased for the eighth week in a row across the US
- But they are also rising from record lows and remain below the levels recorded last winter
- READ MORE: CDC recommends new booster vaccine for every American over the age of SIX MONTHS
The US counties with the highest rates of Covid hospitalizations during the last week of August have been revealed in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) interactive map.
Latest official data shows admissions have now gone up for eight weeks in a row — rising from historic low rates of two hospitalizations per 100,000 people in late June 2023 — and are now at nearly six admissions per 100,000 over the week ending Sept 2.
And the rate is increasing across approximately half of 3,224 counties in the United States.
However, while climbing, the rate remains far lower than the record highs of January 2022, when it hovered around 40 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
Experts say the US is set to see a further increase in Covid hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks as winter approaches, but the wave of Covid admissions will not be like those in previous winters.
Despite the warnings, Dr Anthony Fauci said yesterday he would be ‘extremely surprised’ if face mask mandates or any other restrictions returned, although he added they may be recommended in some areas.
The above map shows the Covid hospitalization rate across the US during the week ending September 2, the latest available. It reveals most counties are considered to have a low hospitalization rate. There are 22 counties which have a high hospitalization rate, shown in orange on the map
While Covid has become milder due to more people having immunity through previous infection or vaccination, the emergence of new, more transmissible variants are causing cases to rise.
However, there is no sign the virus has become more likely to cause severe disease, with variants instead evolving to become more transmissible but less likely to cause hospitalization.
Latest CDC data on the Covid hospitalization rate was for the week ending September 2 and covered all 3,224 counties across the US — including the subdivisions of the country’s territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam.
At the state level, figures showed the hospitalization rate was highest in Florida, where it rose to nearly 12 Covid admissions per 100,000 people.
The second highest rate was recorded in Washington, D.C., where the level was 11 per 100,000, and Alabama had the third highest rate, at 8.4.
By county, Wilson County in Kansas had the highest Covid hospitalization rate of 70 patients per 100,000 people — although this was likely inflated because of the county’s small population of just 9,000 people, according to the US census.
It was followed by two counties in Missouri — Grundy and Mercer — where the rate was 44.6 per 100,000.
Out of the 22 counties with a Covid hospitalization rate above 20 per 100,000, considered a high alert by the CDC, 17 were in the south. Georgia had the most — six counties — followed by Oklahoma, which had four, and Texas, at three.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, 303 counties — or about one in 10 — recorded no Covid admissions over the latest week data is available.
Dr Thomas Moore, an infectious disease expert at the University of Kansas, told DailyMail.com he expected there to be an uptick in Covid admissions in counties later this year, but added this would most likely not match the levels seen in previous waves.
He said: ‘If our experience can be generalized, I think most communities will experience an increase in outpatient office and ER visits, and I expect some increase in hospitalizations.
‘But, in the absence of the emergence of a Paxlovid-resistant or vaccine-resistant strain, I expect there to be nothing like the surges we experienced with any of the previous strains, including Delta and Omicron.’
The above map shows Covid hospitalizations per 100,000 people in the US by state during the week ending September 2
The above map shows the percentage of deaths in each state linked to a Covid infection
The above graph shows the Covid hospitalization rate from January 2022 up to September 22. Hospitalizations have now risen for eight weeks in a row, although they are ticking up from historic lows
The above graph shows Covid deaths over 2022 and 2023. These have also started to rise in recent weeks
Official data shows Covid cases are on the rise nationwide. The most recent complete data available, for the week ending Aug. 26, shows the test positivity rate increased from 13.6 percent from the week prior to 14.1 percent.
The CDC’s county-wide data comes after Dr Anthony Fauci said nationwide face mask mandates would not return this winter even if there was a significant rise in Covid cases.
Despite being criticized for his comments in the past, the former White House chief medical adviser said he’d be ‘extremely surprised’ if the blanket restrictions returned at a federal level.
But he could not promise masks would not be ‘recommended’ again at the state or local level — after schools, colleges and businesses across America began asking staff and students to wear them again.
Fauci, 82, also said the risk of a deadly Covid wave that rivals previous peaks of the pandemic happening again was ‘probably low’ because so many Americans have immunity from vaccination or past infection.
Asked whether mask mandates would return on ABC ‘This Week’, Dr Fauci said: ‘No, I don’t see that in the future at all.
‘I can see that if we get a significant uptick in cases that you may see the recommendation that masks be used under certain circumstances and indoor crowded settings.
‘But I don’t see there being, certainly not federal mandates — I would be extremely surprised if we would see that.’