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The number of new COVID cases more than tripled over the past two weeks, shattering records all across the U.S. From a report: The Omicron variant appears to be significantly milder than its predecessors, and it's not leading to as much serious illness. But sky-high case counts are still a warning sign, especially in areas whose health care systems are already stretched thin. The U.S. is now averaging nearly 550,000 new cases per day -- a 225% increase over the past two weeks, and by far the highest levels of the entire pandemic. That's likely an undercount, as many people are testing themselves at home. In previous waves, a sharp increase in cases would translate into a similar increase in hospitalizations, and then deaths. Omicron, however, appears to cause severe illness at a much lower rate.