US COVID Infection Rate Is 'Coming Down Sharply'

Carolyn Crist

May 24, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

The U.S. is reporting fewer than 30,000 COVID-19 cases per day for the first time since June 2020, and COVID-19 deaths are as low as they were last summer, according to  The New York Times.

The U.S. test positivity rate has fallen below 3%, and the case rate is now about 8 infections per 100,000 people.

"The rate of infection is coming down sharply. I think by June, we're probably going to be at one infection per 100,000 people per day, which is a very low level," Scott Gottlieb, MD, former FDA commissioner, said Sunday on the CBS News show Face the Nation.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalized patients has also fallen to the lowest point in nearly a year, the newspaper reported. Deaths are averaging about 578 per day.

But the coronavirus is circulating in some communities, particularly areas with low vaccination rates. As COVID-19 safety protocols shift nationwide, people will need to rely on their own judgement during their daily activities, Gottlieb said.

"We're going to have to protect ourselves based on our own assessment of our risk and our own comfort," he said.

As case rates continue to improve, public health officials are keeping an eye on vaccination numbers. Now, nearly 50% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the latest CDC tally updated on Sunday. About 39% of Americans are considered fully vaccinated.

At the state level, 25 states have fully vaccinated at least half of their adults, according to CNN. Maine has the highest proportion, with 62% of people ages 18 and older fully vaccinated.

"Across the country, cases of COVID-19, serious illness, and loss of life are all down dramatically," Andy Slavitt, the White House senior COVID-19 adviser, said during a briefing on Friday.

"And they can be brought down even further ― and the risk of a future wave in your community significantly reduced ― if we keep up the pace of vaccinations," he said.


The New York Times: "Coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States drop to lowest levels in nearly a year."

CBS News: "Transcript: Scott Gottlieb on 'Face the Nation,' May 23, 2021."

CDC: "COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States."

CNN: "Half of US states have fully vaccinated at least 50% of adults. We need to keep going to prevent future outbreaks, official says."