Finally, an encouraging week in the pandemic

Weekly new cases for the seven-day period beginning Thursday, January 14 were down 20 percent, the lowest number of new cases we’ve seen for a non-holiday week since mid-November. As important, after 16 straight weeks of increases, average weekly hospitalizations dropped 4 percent this week—a modest improvement, but a good sign. Reported tests reached a new weekly high, edging out last week by 1 percent—though the high test numbers this week probably reflect the fact that the testing backlog is still catching up…

A closer look at current COVID-19 hospitalizations offers good news for most U.S. regions. Hospitalizations remain very high but are declining modestly across the South and the West and continuing their substantial declines in the Midwest. In the Northeast, hospitalizations have plateaued…

Cases, too, are falling in every region. In the Midwest’s “West North Central” division—which includes many of the states that had the worst per capita outbreaks late last fall—cases have very nearly returned to the levels reported at the beginning of October 2020.