U.S. COVID infections are hovering near levels of the pandemic’s first peak in 2020, and approaching the Delta peak of late 2021, according to wastewater surveillance and modeling by forecasters.

It’s yet another sign that while the official pandemic state may be over, the days of COVID are far from it. Viral wastewater levels are not far behind all of the pandemic’s 2020 peaks except for one—the initial peak of March 2020, which they’ve already surpassed.

And they lag just slightly levels seen during the deadly Delta-peak of late 2021, according to Biobot Analytics, which monitors such data for the federal government.


A forecast issued this week by Jay Weiland, a leading COVID modeler, came to the same conclusions. On Thursday, Weiland estimated that 650,000 Americans are becoming infected daily, with 1 in 51 Americans currently infected with COVID.

An additional 7% to 10% of the U.S. population will be infected over the next month and a half, Weiland predicted. Both Biobot data and Wieland’s modeling show U.S. cases beginning to recede. But they may not fall much more, if any, before the anticipated fall and winter surge.

Infections aside, COVID hospitalizations and deaths are continuing to rise, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hospitalizations rose nearly 9% from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2, the most recent period for which the federal health agency made data available. And deaths rose nearly 5% from Sept. 3-9.

The World Health Organization continues to receive reports on concerning COVID trends, including a growing number of countries reporting an increase in infections, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for COVID-19 response, said at a Thursday news conference.

Vaccination, in addition to early diagnosis and access to care, can prevent severe disease and death, she said. WHO officials encouraged those at high risk for poor outcomes from the virus, like the elderly and immunocompromised, to obtain a booster ASAP—

even if it’s not the latest XBB formula being rolled out in some parts of the world. Vaccinating and boosting with any available version “remains vitally important to saving people’s lives now,” officials said.