More States Report Drop In COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations

More states are reporting a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations this week, as a surge of the highly transmissible omicron variant shows signs of easing.

While some states in the Northeast had already seen positive indicators – with cases and hospitalizations falling late last month – western and southern states have still been stretched thin.

On Monday, Nebraska hospital officials said they were cautiously optimistic that virus hospitalizations would continue to decline, but noted they were concerned about the possibility of another surge.

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“We are hopeful that Nebraska hospitals are starting to experience the beginning of the end of the omicron surge,” said Nebraska Hospital Association president Jeremy Nordquist.

The state reported 627 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, following its peak at 767 on Jan. 28.

The number of cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fell from 22,302 the previous week to 10,435 last week.

Registered Nurse Sara Nystrom, of Townshend, Vt., Prepares to enter a patient's room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Jan.  3, 2022.

Registered Nurse Sara Nystrom, of Townshend, Vt., Prepares to enter a patient’s room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Jan. 3, 2022.
(AP Photo / Steven Senne, File)

The seven-day rolling average also declined from 4,163 new cases per day on Jan. 22 to 1,490.71 new cases per day on Saturday.

In Minnesota, The Star Tribune reported Monday that officials said daily deaths had plateaued and that hospitalizations on Friday marked a 24% decrease from Jan. 19.

The publication said the positivity rate of COVID-19 testing had also declined.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear reported a significant decline in weekly cases on Monday.

New coronavirus cases statewide dropped from 74,300 to more than 46,000 last week.

Beshear said the winter storm that swept the state might have held down the weekly number, which still represents Kentucky’s fifth-highest weekly case number during the pandemic.

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“While we are moving in the right direction, there is still a whole lot of virus out there,” the governor told reporters. “So, we’d ask people to continue to be careful the next couple of weeks. The next month, we may see really serious reductions, which would be wonderful.”

Hospitalizations in Kentucky – the majority of patients are unvaccinated – have fallen 11% in the past week and the state’s test positivity rate was down to 23.5%.

As in many states across the country, the death toll there remains high.

In New Hampshire, WMUR said hospitalizations had fallen by nearly 200 compared to just two weeks ago, with the death rate also down.

The daily number of new deaths across the US in January topped more than 4,400, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Jose Alfredo De la Cruz and his wife, Rogelia, self-test for COVID-19 at a No Cost COVID-19 Drive-Through event provided the GUARDaHEART Foundation for the City of Whittier community and the surrounding areas at Guirado Park in Whittier, Calif., On Tuesday, Jan.  25, 2022.

Jose Alfredo De la Cruz and his wife, Rogelia, self-test for COVID-19 at a No Cost COVID-19 Drive-Through event provided the GUARDaHEART Foundation for the City of Whittier community and the surrounding areas at Guirado Park in Whittier, Calif., On Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
(AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes)

On Tuesday, the database showed more than 2,908 new deaths and 340,947 new cases – down from more than a million cases in mid-January.

As cases fall, some states are moving to lift restrictions.

California will end its indoor masking requirement for vaccinated people next week, though officials announced Monday that masks are still the rule for schoolchildren.

In addition, unvaccinated people will still be required to be masked indoors, and everyone – regardless of vaccination status – will have to wear masks in higher-risk areas like public transit and nursing homes.

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“Omicron has loosened its hold on California, vaccines for children under 5 are around the corner, and access to COVID-19 treatments is improving,” said state Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón. “With things moving in the right direction, we are making responsible modifications to COVID-19 prevention measures, while also continuing to develop a longer-term action plan for the state.”

The Golden State has seen a 65% drop in case rates since the peak during the wintertime omicron surge.

Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey and Oregon have also announced plans to end statewide school mask mandates by the end of February or March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.