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The CDC Says COVID-19 Cases Are Rising, But That Isn’t The Whole Story

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tweeted Wednesday that Americans should remain vigilant due to rising COVID-19 infections, but the slight upswing in new cases doesn’t tell the whole story on the state of the pandemic.

The CDC shared a tweet stating the seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in America was up 3.5% on Mar. 1 compared to the previous week. Nearly every other data point suggests the pandemic is continuing to subside, but the organization did not share that information in any public communications Wednesday.

The CDC has said now is “not the time to relax prevention measures.” The messaging occurred after Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his state would be relaxing all COVID-19 restrictions.

Abbot received some criticism for the move. President Joe Biden described the governor’s actions as “Neanderthal thinking” on Wednesday, hours before the CDC’s tweet. But the national data indicates that America’s vaccination campaign is working, and the pandemic is beginning to fade.

New case numbers have essentially flattened in the last 10 days, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 tracking data. There were 53,716 new cases on Feb. 21, before an increase to 75,105 new cases on Feb. 25. However, the numbers dropped again, to 54,276 new cases on Mar. 2. Cases had previously trended downward steadily since a mid-January peak of more than 300,000 new cases in one day.

While positive cases have been roughly flat, testing numbers have trended consistently upward. According to The COVID Tracking Project, the seven-day average for new tests on Feb. 21 was nearly 1.3 million. On Mar. 2, the seven-day average was over 1.5 million. The data suggests the apparent increase in cases is a result of more prevalent testing, not an actual increase in infections.

Testing positivity rate has been steadily declining from a peak of nearly 14% in mid-January, according to data from Johns Hopkins. While the U.S. positivity rate flattened briefly in late Feb., around the time the CDC says cases spiked, the positivity rate has begun declining again and is now close to 4%.

Other metrics paint the same positive picture. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have steadily declined since mid-January, and continue to do so following a brief but slight jump in late-February. On Feb. 21, the seven-day average for new deaths was just above 1,900. On Mar. 2, it was back down to 1,846. That’s down from a Jan. 26 peak of 3,302.

There was no such flattening or increase in hospitalizations in late-February. There were just over 56,000 Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 on Feb. 21. Now, there are close to 46,000. Hospitalizations peaked at more than 132,000 on Jan. 7. (RELATED: Jen Psaki Responds To Suggestion That Prioritizing Teacher Vaccinations Is ‘Anti-Equity Since Most Teachers Are White’)

All of these trends coincide with more Americans getting vaccinated. Nearly 53 million people have now received at least one vaccine dose in the United States, according to The Washington Post.

More than 27 million Americans have received two doses, meaning they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination rates also continue to increase, with the U.S. approaching a pace of more than 2 million doses administered per day. (RELATED: COVID-19 Started In China. Now They’re Using It To Exert Global Power)