CDC director: Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations falling

The numbers are trending in the right direction, but in the big picture, they’re still much, much higher than they should be.

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. have fallen to pre-Thanksgiving levels, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday, and infection rates are continuing to decline.

“We now appear to be in a consistent downward trajectory” for both cases and hospital admissions, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House COVID-19 briefing.

The numbers: Cases have declined since hitting a peak on Jan. 8, dropping 13.4 percent to an average of nearly 144,000 per day from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, Walensky said.

Deaths are continuing to increase, but the pace is slowing.

Implication: Infection numbers are still twice as high as the peak number of cases over the summer, and the U.S. is still averaging more than 3,000 deaths a day. Plus, more contagious variants continue to multiply.