US COVID cases show hints of decline, but deaths are up

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The 7-day average for COVID-19 cases in the United States shows overall signs of decline, though a large portion of the nation continues to report high and medium community levels.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden today, who is experiencing a rebound infection after treatment with Paxlovid, tested positive again for the seventh day in a row.

Much of US still experiencing high transmission

The 7-day average for new daily cases has dipped slightly to the 120,000 range over the past 3 days, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Today the 7-day average is 121,739 cases.

Meanwhile, the 7-day average for new daily deaths is rising, today reaching 496. Deaths, often a lagging indicator, have shown a slow rise since the middle of July.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 41.7% of US counties have high COVID community levels, and 38.9% are at the medium level. Its community transmission map shows that 94% are classified as having high transmission, a level for which CDC recommends masking while indoors and using public transportation.

Biden rebound infection stretches into seventh day

President Biden today tested positive again today for the seventh day in a row, due to a rebound infection following Paxlovid treatment. His doctor Kevin O'Connor, DO, said in an update that Biden continues to feel well and his cough has almost completely resolved. The president will continue to work and isolate in the executive residence.

Despite concerns about rebound, health officials emphasize that treatment still prevents severe outcomes from COVID-19 infections, and after a slow start, prescriptions are picking up, according to Axios. Prescribing levels topped 1 million courses for the first time in July, up 37% from June.

In a related development today, Boston-based researchers yesterday in preprint findings details a trial that tracked viral levels for more than 2 weeks in people with COVID-19 who did and didn't take Paxlovid. Only 1 of 25 people in the treatment group (4%) experienced rebound, compared to 3 of 11 (27%) who took Paxlovid.

They also found viral levels and duration in those who rebounded after Paxlovid were similar to the initial infections, an abrupt high rise with patients testing positive for 6 to 12 days. However, the untreated person who had rebound had a shorter rise.

On Twitter, coauthor Katy Stephenson, MD, MPH, said, "This is a tiny cohort but we think the findings reflect a lot of what providers are seeing in the community when using Paxlovid in mRNA-vaccinated individuals infected with Omicron."

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