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The United States is logging record-setting numbers of coronavirus cases in the final week of 2021. The country is now averaging more than 300,000 new cases per day as it prepares to enter a third calendar year spent battling the pandemic.
We still don’t totally know how this Omicron-fueled surge will end—or where this iteration of the virus will lead us in the new year. But we can, at least, take solace knowing that we enter 2022 armed with a lot more knowledge about this virus than at the start of 2021.
- Omicron is forcing the country into a soft lockdown. “There has been no March 2020–style universal shutdown, but New York is not back anymore, baby,” Sarah Zhang writes.
- Our relationship with COVID vaccines is just getting started. “Maybe we’ll luck out, and finagle some truly durable protection out of our current shots,” Katherine J. Wu reports. “Or perhaps we’re just at the start of what could be the world’s most intense and widespread repeat-vaccination campaign to date.”
- In the short term: The holidays could throw outbreak data off for weeks. That’s what happened last year, explains Erin Kissane, who co-founded the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic.
- In the long term: We talked with Anthony Fauci about what COVID might look like a year from now. “I don’t think by any means we are going to be living with the kind of situation we’re in right now,” he told our White House reporter, Peter Nicholas.
What to read if … you or a loved one test positive for a breakthrough COVID infection:
The science writer and editor Yasmin Tayag explains what to do next.
What to read if … you’re looking for fresh entertainment to close out the year:
Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:
Dune is “magnificent, luxuriating in the details of royal families conducting intergalactic intrigue and warring on a mystical desert planet,” our culture writer David Sims explains.
A break from the news: