Amidst the nation's latest resurgence in COVID-19 infections, new forecast models used by the CDC show that daily hospital admission levels and new virus-related deaths in the U.S. are projected to continue increasing over the next four weeks.
The forecast comes as a growing number of COVID-19 positive patients are entering hospitals and requiring care each day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are now more than 20,000 virus-positive Americans currently receiving care in the U.S., the data shows — the highest total number of patients hospitalized since mid-March. On average, more than 2,500 virus-positive Americans are entering the hospital each day -- a total that has increased by 18.1% in the last week. This also marks the highest number of patients entering the hospital in nearly two months.
However, totals remain significantly lower than during other parts of the pandemic when there were more than 160,000 patients hospitalized with the virus in January.
The forecast also predicts that about 5,400 deaths will occur over the next two weeks. California, New York and Florida are projected to see the largest death tolls in the weeks to come.
A new ABC News analysis this week showed a growing proportion of COVID-19 deaths are occurring among the vaccinated. In August 2021, about 18.9% of COVID-19 deaths were occurring among the vaccinated. Six months later, in February 2022, that percent of deaths had increased to more than 40%.
Comparatively, in September 2021, just 1.1% of COVID-19 deaths were occurring among Americans who had been fully vaccinated and boosted with their first dose. By February 2022, that percent of deaths had increased to about 25%.
Health experts said vaccines and boosters continue to provide significant protection against severe disease. However, waning immunity re-emphasizes the urgency of boosting older Americans and high-risk Americans with additional doses.
During an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged there has been an increase in the number of vaccinated people who are dying of COVID-19, many of whom are elderly, immunocompromised or have underlying conditions.
"As long as you have vulnerable people in the population, even though the unvaccinated are going to be much more at risk, even vaccinated with underlying conditions and a high degree of susceptibility to severe disease will account for those deaths," he said.
The other group of Americans, who are becoming severely ill and dying, is still the unvaccinated, Fauci said. He stressed that a large proportion — about a third of Americans — have not been fully vaccinated, while about half of eligible Americans are still unboosted with their first dose.
Fauci said that in order for the U.S. to move into an endemic phase, the prevalence of the virus across the country has to come down.
"What we're hoping for is that when the level comes down, it stays in a well-controlled level, and those people who've been vaccinated and boosted even though they might get infected, they won't get a severe disease that would lead to hospitalization, and tragically in many cases, to deaths of individuals," Fauci explained.