These 7 States Are Seeing the Worst COVID Surges Right Now

New infections are skyrocketing nationwide as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

The new year has begun with a set of COVID-19 records as the pandemic continues to reach new heights. On Jan. 3, the U.S. reported 1,082,549 new coronavirus cases, marking the first time more than a million have been recorded in a single day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University analyzed by CNBC. Now, many states are struggling to control unprecedented COVID surges as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

By nearly every metric, the earliest data of 2022 paints a grim picture of the pandemic's current state. As of Jan. 3, the national daily case average remains at its highest point ever, skyrocketing by 239 percent over the past two weeks to 486,658 and making it the highest in the world, according to data from The New York Times. Hospitalizations are also rising, reaching 97,847 after a 41 percent increase over the past 14 days. And while the number is still below the pandemic high of close to 137,000 U.S. hospitalizations, some experts warn that the latest version of the virus could still create significant problems in that area.

"It looks, in fact, that [Omicron] might be less severe, at least from data that we've gathered from South Africa, from the U.K., and even some from preliminary data from here in the United States," Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser, said during an interview with CNN on Jan. 2. "The only difficulty is that if you have so many cases, even if the rate of hospitalization is lower with Omicron than it is with Delta, there is still the danger that you will have a surging of hospitalizations that might stress the healthcare system."

Other experts, such as former Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, predicted that the highest point in the pandemic may not have even been reached yet. "I think places that have been hard hit early, like the mid-Atlantic, the northeast New England, Florida, parts of the Pacific Northwest, may be two weeks away from peaking, but the rest of the country probably faces a hard month ahead of us," he said during an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation on Jan. 2. "I don't think you're going to start to see a national peak until we get into [February] because there's parts of the country that really haven't been hard hit by Omicron yet and the virus will spread around the country."

Read on to see which states have experienced COVID surges of more than 200 percent over the past week as of Jan. 4, according to data from The Washington Post.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says This Is How the Pandemic Will End Now.

7
Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana skyline
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 176 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 203 percent

Louisiana closed out 2021 by reporting around 12,500 cases on the second to last day of the year, nearly doubling the state's previous record set during the summer Delta surge, The Post reports. Hospitalizations have also doubled over the past week to the highest point in three months with 1,106 patients, according to data from the state's health department.

6
Arkansas

The skyline of Little Rock, Arkansas at dawn
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 110 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 217 percent

On Jan. 2, Arkansas state health officials reported its highest active caseload in nearly a year, rising to 26,577 over the holiday weekend, local Little Rock NBC affiliate KARK reported. And while hospitalizations are still half of what they were during previous surges, they reported an increase to 683 statewide.

RELATED: If You Have Omicron, This Is When You'll Begin to Feel Symptoms.

5
Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi, USA cityscape at dusk.
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 138 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 231 percent

After reporting 17,525 new cases statewide over the New Year's holiday weekend from Dec. 30 to Jan. 2, Mississippi state epidemiologist Paul Byers, MD, said that the state was headed towards "a fifth wave of COVID," the New Canaan Advertiser reports. Hospitalizations have also risen sharply, more than doubling since Dec. 19 from 265 to 695.

4
Alabama

The skyline of Mobile, Alabama at dusk
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 125 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 251 percent

COVID cases are on the rise in Alabama, reporting a record-high positive test rate of 36.4 percent on Jan. 3, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Officials also said that hospitalizations from the virus statewide had doubled over the past week to 1,104 patients.

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3
Alaska

Sunset from the coast in Ketchikan, Alaska. Landscape coastal view along the ocean with buildings along the bay and mountain in background as the evening sun colors the cloudy/ overcast autumn sky.
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 73 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 255 percent

A post-holiday surge in Alaska has caused cases to more than double there in the past week. The state, which previously struggled with a late surge from the Delta variant, is already reporting a 12.8 percent positive test rate—higher than the numbers posted during the October high mark, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

2
South Carolina

charleston south carolina
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 85 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 268 percent

South Carolina is amid a record-breaking surge, reporting an all-time high of 8,882 new cases in a single day on Dec. 31. The state also reported a 54.5 percent increase in hospitalizations during the same period to 921.

"I'm very concerned, and I fully expect as bad as the numbers are today, that they will very possibly be worse next week especially with New Year's Eve parties," Edward Simmer, MD, director of South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), said during a Dec. 31 press conference.

1
North Carolina

city skyline of Raleigh, North Carolina at dusk
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  • New cases in the last seven days: 170 cases per 100,000 people
  • Percent increase in the last seven days: 579 percent

North Carolina rang in the new year with a new record, reporting 19,620 cases in the single day statewide on Jan. 1. Hospitalizations in the state have also doubled since the beginning of last month, with state health officials reporting that 89 percent of COVID-19 patients in ICUs were unvaccinated, The Times reports.

RELATED: If You Have These 2 Symptoms, Get Tested for Omicron, Experts Warn.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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