Trend watch and what's new this week
The omicron variant has spiked infections nationally (slide 3), dwarfing prior waves in the U.S. However, several trends give a glimmer of hope that the omicron wave may be peaking.
First, regional U.S. view (slide 7) shows the cases in the Northeast peaked a week ago. Similarly, the state-level view shows states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Ohio have peaked.
Thirdly, hospitalizations have already peak based on the rate of hospitalizations (slide 8). Additionally, the percentage of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is currently at 20.5%, down from 21.4% five days ago. Moreover, key states have peaked, such as Maryland, which dropped to 29.2% from 36.8% in the past week (slide 9).
Still, new infections for school-age children jumped after winter break (slide 10).
We updated the massive West Coast port traffic tsunami (slide 11). While there has been a lot of attention on the bottlenecks at U.S. ports, causing goods to be delayed, the top five U.S. ports have handled nearly 18% more cargo year-to-date (through November) compared to 2019.
Lastly, we also highlight mobility by year (slide 12), showing Americans have gradually become more active despite the pandemic.
We’re encouraged by the most recent virus trends, suggesting the omicron wave may be peaking in the U.S. Yet, we warn against attributing too much of the recent weakness to omicron alone. Much of the softness seems to be related to seasonality. Indeed, late December economic data weakened, typical as most activities ebb at year end. Furthermore, a series of winter storms strafed much of the U.S. during December.
Still, these developments will certainly result in softer data to start the new year as some of these issues spilled into January. Moreover, it’s important to understand such delays typically result in pushing back activity rather than cancelling it, which equates to outright losses.
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