COVID-19 cases were 4 times higher this Labor Day weekend than last year, as Delta continues to surge across the US

A person walks by a LabQ Covid-19 testing van on the Upper West Side over Labor Day Weekend on September 06, 2021 in New York City.
A person walks by a LabQ Covid-19 testing van on the Upper West Side over Labor Day Weekend on September 06, 2021 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • The US recorded four times as many COVID-19 cases in the run up to Labor Day than in the same period last year.
  • On Sunday, average new daily cases were at 163,728, compared to 41,488 on the same day in 2020.
  • The highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread around the country.
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The US recorded almost four times as many new COVID-19 cases in the run up to Labor Day weekend this year than in the same period in 2020.

On September 5, 2020, the weekly average number of new daily COVID-19 cases was 41,488, according to Oxford University’s Our World in Data. Exactly a year later, on Sunday, the number was 163,728, which is 294% higher.

The number of COVID-19 tests was roughly the same, the data showed.

The average number of daily deaths per million was almost twice as high this year, the data showed.

Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told local Houston news station Khou on Monday that the US was “having this incredible surge right now of COVID-19, although it’s unevenly distributed.”

“The South is on fire in terms of this raging epidemic,” he said, per Khou.

The highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread across the country. To stop Delta spreading from COVID-19 hotspots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that unvaccinated Americans shouldn’t travel for Labor Day weekend.

Fully vaccinated people should keep their masks on to try to stop further spread of the Delta variant, it said.

CBS reported Monday that more than 3.5 million Americans traveled on Friday and Saturday alone – more than twice as many as last year, but less than before the pandemic.

It’s too early to tell if holiday weekend travel will cause further COVID-19 spikes.

Lawrence Gostin, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told CNBC on Friday that it was “highly surprising” that cases and deaths were higher this year than last year, given that “effective” vaccines were now available.

Real-world data has shown that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is 88% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the Delta variant, and 96% effective at stopping deaths.

So far, about 53% of the US population is fully-vaccinated, according to the CDC, but the number varies from state to state. Wyoming, Alabama, and Mississippi have vaccinated roughly 39% of people, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin, community pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic, told CNBC that the Delta variant “continues to throw us curves.”

“I think the best advice is to be cautious and careful,” she said.