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Mask mandates are being lifted in many states as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decline. Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • New COVID-19 hospitalizations continued their decline this past week in the United States.
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases decreased for the seventh straight week while the death rate also dropped.
  • The daily U.S. vaccination rate sits at about 320,000. Experts say elected and community leaders still need to continue promoting the benefits of vaccination.

Editor’s note: Healthline stopped updating this story on March 10, 2022, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to ease.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations declined again this past week in the United States as new cases continue to fall.

COVID-19 hospitalizations nationwide are now sitting at 30,000, about 7,000 fewer than a week ago.

California has the most COVID-19 hospitalizations at 3,200, almost 1,000 fewer than last week. Texas is next with 2,600 hospitalizations, about 1,000 fewer than a week ago. Florida follows with 1,800 hospitalizations.

A chart compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects a continued decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the next 4 weeks.

Information compiled by Becker’s Hospital Review shows no states with COVID-19 hospitalizations of more than 40 per 100,000 residents. West Virginia is the highest at 31 hospitalizations per capita. No states are showing an increase in hospitalizations.

Massachusetts has the lowest per capita rate with 5 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents. New Hampshire and Iowa are next, each with 6 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.

Here’s a look at the states with the highest per capita hospitalization rates and their percentage of fully vaccinated people:

StateHospitalizations per 100,000 residentsFull vaccination rate
West Virginia3157%
North Carolina1761%
Source: COVID ActNow

Despite the decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, experts say we should remain on guard and vigilant as the Omicron wave subsides.

“My cautious optimism hopes that we are past the peak of the Omicron surge, but I am not yet ready to hoist the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Healthline. “Better to keep wearing masks for a month too long rather than take them off a month too soon.”

“Cases and hospitalizations need to drop more and for a more sustained time before we can start to relax,” he added. “I anticipate that this still will take a while in our large and diverse country. The declines in COVID cases and hospitalizations will occur at different speeds in different parts of the country.”

Dr. Jamila Taylor, director of healthcare reform and a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, agrees we still need to be cautious.

“At this time, all indications point to a transition to an endemic stage. I am hopeful that some semblance of normalcy is also on the horizon,” she told Healthline. “This does not mean we should let up our mitigation efforts. We are so close, and I worry that if we let up prematurely, we could end up seeing increases again.”

Schaffner added he remains optimistic even with the emergence of the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

“Fortunately, the B2 variant still is rather well protected against by our current vaccines,” he said. “Our vaccines offer protection against hospitalization by the B2 variant, thus I doubt that B2 will produce a substantial increase in hospitalizations, but it might prolong the transition from pandemic to endemic.”

Schaffner also said we should keep a close eye on cases in certain areas amid the relaxation of mask mandates in many parts of the country.

“The recent CDC mask guidelines have been generally well received,” he noted. “I continue to be somewhat concerned about persons in the red zone areas casting their masks aside. Living in a red zone, I have witnessed a substantial increase in unmasked shoppers in the supermarket over the past 2 weeks.”

Overall, the United States has reported 79 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. Deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States have topped 960,000.

According to CDC figures, the average number of new COVID-19 cases has dropped to 40,000 a day, almost 30,000 fewer than it was a week ago.

The total number of new COVID-19 cases for the week that ended March 6 was listed at 347,282, a decrease of 22 percent from the previous week.

Only four states reported an increase in new COVID-19 cases. They were led by Nebraska with a hike of 2,237 percent to 22,625 cases. Washington was next with a jump of 82 percent to 12,737 cases. It was followed by Iowa with an increase of nearly 63 percent to 9,534 cases and Montana with a 28 percent hike to 5,233 cases.

In overall numbers, the CDC reports that California had the most new cases in the past 7 days with 38,668, fewer than half what it had a week ago. Texas was second with 24,361 new cases. North Carolina was third with 12,727 new cases.

The CDC reports that Idaho is the leader per capita with 447 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. Montana is next with 431 new cases per 100,000 residents.

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The rate of transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 on a county-by-county basis as of Feb. 22. Source: CDC

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 for the past week were listed at 10,479, a drop of 21 percent from the previous week.

There were 13 states that reported an increase in deaths related to COVID-19 for the week that ended March 6. There were 11 states the previous week.

Delaware had the highest jump with an increase of 200 percent to 42 deaths. Kansas was next with a 53 percent hike to 46 deaths. Kentucky was third with a 34 percent jump to 260 deaths.

California recorded the most COVID-19 deaths over the past 7 days with 1,149. Texas followed with 869 deaths. Ohio was next with 438 deaths.

West Virginia had the highest death rate per capita with more than 7 deaths per 100,000 residents. This was followed by South Carolina and Arkansas, each with more than 6 deaths per 100,000 residents.

The 7-day average of vaccine doses administered in the United States sits at 320,000, about 180,000 lower than it was a week ago.

The CDC reports more than 555 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the United States.

More than 254 million people have received at least one dose, and more than 216 million people are fully vaccinated.

The numbers now include the 95 million people who’ve received COVID-19 vaccine boosters since they were made available.

That means 76 percent of the total U.S. population has received at least one dose, and 88 percent of the country’s adult population has received at least one dose. About 95 percent of people ages 65 and older have received at least one dose.

Here are the top five states in terms of the percentage of the population that’s received at least one dose:

States with the highest percentage of vaccination (total population)
1. Rhode Island: 95%
2. Massachusetts: 95%
3. Connecticut: 94%
4. Vermont: 93%
5. Maine: 89%
Source: COVID Act Now

Schaffner said he is worried about the recent declines in people getting vaccinated.

“Booster vaccinations and the vaccination of children both are proceeding quite slowly. This slowness will slow down our transition from pandemic to endemic phase in our country,” he said.

Taylor also expressed concern about the decline in vaccinations nationwide.

“I think ramping up vaccines needs to remain a focus. Over the long term, the vaccine continues to be our best intervention,” she said.

Taylor added it’s important to remind people that vaccines keep people from becoming severely ill.

“It is important that we continue to drive the message that the vaccines are working as intended,” she said. “They are protecting people from death and getting seriously ill due to COVID-19. In turn, they are also keeping people out of the hospital.”