The impact has caused canceled flights, closed schools, overwhelmed hospitals, and strangled supply chains.
On Monday, the United States added more than 1 million people to its COVID-19 case count, revealing the actual magnitude of a spike in infections over the holidays. The highly mutated variant, combined with delayed reporting by local governments over the holidays, led to a single-day record for new cases for any country in the world. Monday's figure is nearly double the previous record of around 590,000 established just five days ago in the United States, which was also up from the previous week. Cases surged to 485,363 a day on Monday, more than doubling in a week, according to a seven-day average, the total of 978,856 new infections documented on Monday included some cases tallied on Saturday and Sunday, when many states do not report.
Omicron appears to be far more easily transmitted than other variants and was estimated to account for 95.4% of cases identified in the United States as of Jan 1st, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday. Evidence suggests that Omicron is causing less severe illness, according to the World Health Organization. Nonetheless, public health officials have cautioned that the large number of Omicron cases could overwhelm hospitals, which are already dealing with COVID-19 patients, mostly among the unvaccinated. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a 30-day state of emergency on Tuesday and mobilized 1,000 National Guard members to pandemic response operations as COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state hit a record high of more than 3,000, up more than five-fold in seven weeks, said Hogan.