This Is When the Next Major COVID Surge Will Happen, Officials Now Warn

Here's what you should expect based on the latest predictions.

The U.S. was rocked by a massive COVID surge this past winter, driven almost entirely by the fast-spreading Omicron variant. At that point, there were 500,000 to 700,000 new cases being reported every single week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Thankfully, it's been some time since we've seen such high numbers, as infections started steadily dropping in February and March. But cases are back on the rise once again thanks to even more infectious Omicron subvariants. According to the latest data from the CDC, COVID cases have increased by more than 21 percent in just the last week alone with more than 64,000 new infections reported. While that's hardly the level we saw during Omicron's reign, some experts are already warning Americans about the next major COVID surge. Read on to find out what officials are predicting next.

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More than half of all Americans have already been infected by COVID.

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At this point in the pandemic, it's almost guaranteed that you or someone you're close to has been hit with COVID. According to an April 29 report from the CDC, 60 percent of all Americans—including approximately 75 percent of children—have been infected with COVID as of Feb. 2022. And a majority of these infections have been the result of Omicron, the agency noted.

"These findings illustrate a high infection rate for the Omicron variant, especially among children," the CDC said. "Vaccination remains the safest strategy for preventing complications from SARS-CoV-2 infection, including hospitalization among children and adults."

Officials say the next major COVID surge could hit later this year.

A young woman having her nose swabbed for a COVID test by a healthcare worker
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The Biden administration is now preparing for another major COVID surge this fall. A White House official warned during a briefing that they are currently projecting 100 million Americans—or roughly 30 percent of the population—could contract COVID this fall or winter, The Washington Post reported on May 6. According to the newspaper, this spike is expected to be driven by new Omicron subvariants that will spread through the U.S. at a time when many will have waning immunity against infection.

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But cases might start rising in other states sooner than this.

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While officials are not expecting the U.S. to have another country-wide COVID surge until at least the fall, some states could experience their own wave sooner than this. The White House official predicted that the next coronavirus wave will hit the South this summer, largely driven by the increase in temperature forcing people inside. Then in the fall, the official predicts the spike in infections will start to spread across the rest of the country.

Other experts share this expectation, especially considering that a similar pattern was seen in 2020 and 2021. "For some reason, we see a seasonality in these peaks. We're seeing a very high rate of cases in the South during the summer months, possibly because so many people are inside because its so hot there," Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told The Washington Post.

The next major surge depends on a number of different factors.

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None of these projections are certain, however, as there are various factors that could change the course of the country's COVID troubles. The White House official said that the 100 million figure is partly based on the assumption that there will be a lack of federal resources allocated by Congress, The New York Times reported.

According to the newspaper, the Biden administration has been pushing Congress for $22.5 billion in emergency aid for COVID tests, therapeutics, and vaccines this year, but Republicans have insisted that number be lowered significantly to just $10 billion. Without this, it's likely many vaccinated and previously infected people could be reinfected by a COVID surge in the fall, according to the White House official.

"What they're saying seems reasonable—it's on the pessimistic side of what we projected in the COVID-19 scenario modeling run," Justin Lessler, PhD, an epidemiologist at University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, told The Washington Post. "It's always hard to predict the future when it comes to COVID, but I think we're at a point now where it's even harder than normal. Because there's so much sensitivity, in terms of these long-term trends, to things we don't understand exactly about the virus and about [human] behavior."

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