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Daily COVID-19 cases in US up 98% from last week as Omicron rages on

People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing site in New York’ Times Square on Dec. 13, 2021. (AP Photo)

The current seven-day daily average of COVID-19 cases in the United States is 491,700 per day — marking a 98% increase over the previous week, according to the top federal health agency.

At a briefing on Wednesday, amid rapid surge in infections fueled by the omicron variant of coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the cases had spiked after the New Year holidays.

As of Wednesday, the omicron variant makes up 95 percent of new cases, while the delta variant makes up 5 percent, according to the agency, making omicron the dominant variant in the country.

In recent weeks, the world’s worst-hit country from the pandemic has seen the omicron variant edging out the previously dominant delta strain.

The seven-day daily average of hospitalizations is 14,800 per day, marking a 63 percent increase from previous week while average number of deaths now stands at 1,200 per day, a 5 percent increase.

The United States reported a record single-day number of daily COVID-19 cases, with more than 1 million new infections, on Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

On Tuesday, following intense criticism, the CDC updated its guidelines on the recommended COVID-19 isolation period, telling people to take rapid COVID-19 test at the end of their five-day isolation period.

The White House jumped in defense of the CDC on Tuesday, calling the recommendations "based on the science" and not based on "a clear communications plan."

"The CDC is offering its updated guidance in real time of a fast moving and changing pandemic environment," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN’s White House Correspondent, wrote on Twitter that the agency still had not recommended a rapid test after 5 days, “but say if you take one and it's positive, isolated people should continue isolating for 5 more days.”

“The updated guidance advising people to stay isolated until day 10 if they have a positive rapid test after five days in isolation appears to contradict Dr. Walensky’s claim to CNN last week that “we wouldn’t change our guidance based on the result of the rapid test”,” she wrote.

Mehdi Hasan, MSNSC journalist and news host, took a swipe at the federal agency.

“Too often, CDC's messaging has been a dangerous joke during this pandemic, both under Trump and Biden,” he wrote on Twitter, in response to Collins’ tweet.

Meanwhile, coronavirus infections in the US Capitol have reportedly skyrocketed, with lawmakers and their staff members mostly getting affected by Omicron and delta variants.

According to a memo sent to lawmakers on Monday from Capitol physician Brian Monahan, the daily infections rates will increase even more significantly in the coming weeks, The Hill reported.

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