US COVID markers show more declines

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Most of the measures the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses to track COVID-19 activity declined last week, except for deaths, which are often a lagging indicator, according to the group's latest data updates. The levels reflect a recent drop in COVID activity, following several weeks of a slow summer rise from very low levels.

Indicators show downward trend, more variant shifts

Hospitalizations declined 4.3% compared to the previous week, with only a few counties at the high level, mainly in the southern region. Deaths were up 12.5%, with Kentucky reporting the highest level of fatalities from COVID among the states.

Early indicators also reflect more declines compared to the past week. Emergency department (ED) visits for COVID dropped 19.3%, with Oregon the only state at the moderate level. Test positivity declined 1.2%., is at 11.6% nationally, and is highest in the southern part of the Midwest.

Data from the Biobot wastewater tracking network show declining SARS-CoV-2 levels nationally, as well in all regions.

The CDC also today posted its latest variant projections, which show that EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 variant levels continue to increase, with the two making up about 40% of sequenced samples. Levels of the HV.1 variant rose to 12.9%, up from 8.1% 2 weeks ago.

Global update shows mixed picture with limited data

In other COVID developments, the World Health Organization (WHO) posted its latest monthly update, which it cautions is based on limited data, with cases and deaths reported from only 96 countries and even fewer countries regularly reporting hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions. It also said its assessments are limited by reduced testing and delays in reporting.

Over the past month, cases were down 55% and deaths were down 34%, with a mixed picture from different regions. Cases were up in the European and Eastern Mediterranean regions compared to the previous month. Italy and Russia are among the countries reporting rises. Deaths were up in three regions: Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, and South East Asia.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations and ICU admissions were up 42% and 12%, respectively.

Regarding variant activity, EG.5 is the only variant showing increasing proportions at the global level, accounting for 33.6% of sequences in the most recent reporting week. So far, 21 countries have reported 198 sequences of the highly mutated BA.2.86 variant.

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