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Coronavirus Update: BA.2 subvariant has led to spike in new COVID-19 cases in some U.S. states

The BA.2 subvariant seems to have created a crack in the armor that’s fending off COVID-19, as China announced new lockdown measures and as some U.S. states have recorded spikes in new cases.

Most of China’s largest city of Shanghai has been locked down as new cases of COVID-19 have surged, in what are some of the most extensive lockdowns since those imposed on Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first publicly announced to be detected in December 2019, as the Associated Press reported. The Shanghai lockdowns will be carried out in two phases, starting Monday.

In the U.S., several states in the Northeast and South have recorded increases in the cases over the past couple of weeks, as the BA.2 count continues to grow, with New York, Connecticut and Arkansas seeing increases of more than 20%, according to the New York Times.

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Overall in the U.S., the seven-day average of new cases slipped to 30,120 on Sunday from 30,174 on Saturday, but has now held above the 30,000 mark for a fifth-straight day after hitting an eight-month low of 28,985 on March 22, according to a NYT tracker.

The New York Times

This comes as the U.S. continues to remove restrictions and as the rate of vaccinations have stalled.

The number of fully vaccinated Americans was 217.42 million, or 65.5% of the total population, according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes 89% of Americans at least 65 years of age, 75.4% of adult Americans and 69.6% of those at least 5 years old. That implies that only about 17.3% of people aged 5 to 17 have been vaccinated.

The New York Times, CDC

Meanwhile, Brooklyn Nets basketball star Kyrie Irving played in his first home game Sunday after New York City Mayor Eric Adams exempted athletes and performers from the city’s vaccine mandate, and as unvaccinated United Airlines Holdings Inc. UAL employees were allowed to return to work Monday after the air carrier’s mandate was lifted.

In addition, Tesla Inc.

founder and leader Elon Musk, who claims to be vaccinated, tweeted early Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 again, but had “almost” no symptoms. Read more about Tesla’s plan to enable a second stock split in two years.

On the bright side, hospitalizations and deaths, which have been a lagging indicator, have continued to fall.

The daily average of hospitalizations was 18,396 on Sunday, and has declined every day since Jan. 22. And even better, the daily average of those in intensive care units fell to 2,983, or 16% of those hospitalized, the lowest number since July 2020.

The New York Times

Hospitalizations have fallen 36% over the past two weeks, and is at the lowest level seen since early July.

The daily average for deaths was at 793 on Sunday, down 39% from two weeks ago and the first count below 800 since Aug. 17.

On a global basis, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose to 481.12 million, while the death toll reached 6,124,475, as of midday Monday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. continued to lead the world with 79.95 million cases and 976,705 deaths.

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