More than 1.08 million people across the country tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday – a global daily record, data from Johns Hopkins University revealed.
The deluge of infections is forcing government officials, employers and citizens to weigh their risk tolerance as Americans enter year three of a devastating pandemic that has upended lives and livelihoods.
Although evidence suggests Omicron is generally more mild and less lethal than other strains, the volume of new cases has been followed by an increase in hospitalizations, threatening to once again overwhelm beleaguered hospitals.
Medical experts are sounding the alarm that the Omicron wave could be particularly harmful to children, as pediatric admissions of patients with Covid-19 reach record highs.
“This narrative that it’s just a mild virus is not accurate,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN.
“We’ve just done a terrible job vaccinating our kids across the country. So even though there’s a lot of happy talk about the Omicron variant, less severe disease, when you add up all the factors … we’ve got a very serious situation facing us in this country, especially for the kids.”
Monday’s number of new cases was almost double the previous record of about 590,000, set four days before.
While delays in reporting over the holiday period may have played a role, the new record could be a significant underestimate. Many Americans are relying on tests taken at home with results not reported to authorities.
Amid the deepening crisis, schools and businesses are facing difficult decisions. Classrooms in cities including Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Atlanta are closing as infections soar, opting for virtual learning or delaying students’ return.