WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Amid a slow and uneven rollout of vaccines and increasing concern about new coronavirus variants, key COVID-19 indicators show ease of the pandemic across the country, according to a weekly report of The COVID-19 Tracking Project.
For the second week in a row, new cases and hospitalizations dropped nationally, 14 percent for cases and 12 percent for hospitalizations.
However, cases and hospitalizations remain much higher than at any point before the fall and winter surge, according to the tracking project.
A total of 164,876 new cases and 3,532 deaths were reported across the country on Friday, according to the data updated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Saturday.
Currently the country averages over 153,000 daily cases and over 3,200 daily deaths, CDC data show.
There were a total of 97,561 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of Saturday, the first time below 100,000 since Dec. 1 last year, according to the tracking project.
Tests have also declined for about 3 percent, which may mean that more cases are being missed.
COVID-19 deaths rose 7 percent this week, with states reporting a total of 22,797 lives lost to COVID-19, according to the tracking project.
Deaths lag behind cases. Even with cases falling across the country, there may be another week or more of very high death numbers to come, according to the project.
Nationwide, new cases among white and African Americans are down more than 10 percent compared to the previous week, and among Latino people more than 20 percent, the second week in a row with fewer new cases for all three groups.
In California, the most populous state in the United States, COVID-19 deaths surge at record pace as cases decline.
An average of 544 people died every day in the last week, and on Saturday the state reached the grim milestone of 40,000 deaths overall, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The vaccine rollout in the United States has drawn great public attention since it started on Dec. 14 last year. Health experts and officials have blamed states for slow vaccine rollout.
About 29.6 million doses have been administered as of Jan. 30, according to CDC data.
The United States has recorded more than 26.09 million COVID-19 cases with over 440,000 related deaths as of Sunday noon, according to the real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.