CDC: Omicron now 95 percent of all cases

The omicron variant accounted for 95.4 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases diagnosed during the week ending on Jan. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The new data shows how quickly the highly transmissible variant has taken over, displacing the previously dominant delta variant. Just two weeks earlier, in the week ending Dec. 18, omicron accounted for only 38 percent of U.S. cases, the CDC said.

The omicron variant has fueled a massive spike in cases, to over 400,000 per day nationwide, but there is mounting evidence that the variant, on average, causes less severe disease than previous variants.

Key is hospitalizations: Still, while most people will have mild cases, even a small percentage getting hospitalized poses a risk to the hospital system given the massive number of total infections.

About 100,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a New York Times tracker, about the same as the peak from the delta wave over the summer, and the number is climbing quickly.

The CDC last month significantly revised down its estimates for omicron’s prevalence. But the range of the latest estimate is smaller, indicating a higher level of confidence.