CDC predicts up to 1.3 million new COVID cases by Christmas

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday released its latest forecast for new COVID-19 cases over the next week, as it predicts up to 1.3-million new U.S. cases by Christmas. The low-end figure is around 620,000 cases.

The agency’s ensemble forecast pulls together data from 20 diverse independent team forecasts into one report to come up with these figures. The news comes on the heels of the country surpassing the 50-million mark in virus cases, leading to more than 800,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

The CDC also found the Omicron variant is spreading faster in New York and New Jersey. Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says genome sequencing is detecting omicron at a rate of about 13% of covid cases, versus 3% nationally.

The variant, which was first recognized near the end of November, is believed to spread easier than the original virus, though data reveals it likely causes a less severe illness. It is, however, believed to be better at infecting people regardless of vaccination status.

Health officials have otherwise stressed getting booster shots, as the Pfizer vaccine’s 70% protection against hospital admission during the omicron surge compares to a 93% protection level seen in South Africa’s delta-driven wave. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has said the definition of being fully vaccinated in the state might change, pushing people to get boosted.