This Week in COVID-19: Case Rate Doubling at a Rapid Pace


COVID-19 updates and news to know as of December 20, 2021.

As of December 20, 2021, there have been 50,636,126 COVID-19 cases in the United States. In the last 7 days, there have been 880,430 new cases identified. (CDC)

And according to Johns Hopkins University, the US is averaging 130,499 new cases each day—up 10% from just 1 week ago. (CNN)

World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MSc, PhD, issued a recommendation that holiday events be delayed or cancelled in light of the “consistent evidence” that the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant spreads significantly faster than the Delta variant. (ABC News)

The SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant has been identified in 43 US states and 90 countries since it was discovered in late November. The case rate is currently doubling in 1.5 to 3 days, even in countries with high levels of population immunity (CNBC)

In a December 20 press release, Moderna announced preliminary data of the 50 µg and 100 µg booster dose against the Omicron variant, with each dose increasing neutralizing antibody levels by 37- and 83-fold, respectively. (Moderna)

In a move out of March 2020, professional sports leagues across the country have begun postponing and cancelling games as more and more athletes have begun testing positive for COVID-19. The NBA—the first professional league to cancel their 2020 season—announced the postponement of 5 games, while the NHL has postponed 21 games between Canadian and US teams. (New York Times)

In the latest edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers evaluated the efficacy of a test-to-stay strategy in two educational settings—one in Los Angeles County, California and one in Lake County, Illinois—finding that this strategy "does not appear to increase transmission risk in public schools” while also reducing the number of lost in-person education days. (MMWR Study 1 and Study 2)

Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the NIAID and Chief Medical Advisor to the Biden Administration predicted that the country is in for “a hard winter” during a CNN interview on Sunday, December 19. During the interview, Fauci urged Americans to get vaccinated and “be prudent in everything else you do.” (CNN)

On Tuesday, December 21, President Joe Biden is expected to announce new steps being taken in preparation for the continued rise in COVID-19 cases across the country. According to Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the Biden Administration is “prepared” for the rise in cases. (Twitter)

The UT COVID Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin has modeled 16 different scenarios illustrating how the spread of the Omicron variant may play out. In the most optimistic of these scenarios, cases peak in mid-January at 189,069 per day—an outcome that requires diligent testing, protective measures, and vaccination. (NPR)

According to research presented at the American Society of Hematology 2021 Annual Meeting, there is no increased risk for acute deep vein thrombosis associated with any of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States. Researchers drew this conclusion from the data of 382,527 patients who had received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose. (ASH Abstracts)

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