U.S. COVID cases continued to hover close to 130,000 a day on Wednesday, the the highest level seen since February, as the BA.5 omicron subvariant continues to spread. BA.5 is understood to be the most transmissible variant seen so far and to have an ability to break through vaccination and cause reinfection. The daily average for new U.S. cases stood at 128,496 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 2% from two weeks ago. The true case count is likely higher, given the number of people who are testing at home, where the data are not being collected. The daily average for hospitalizations rose to 43,433, up 12% in two weeks. The daily average for deaths is up 10% to 433. In California, cases are higher than they’ve been in six months, while in New York, there are more patients in hospitals than at the peak of last year’s delta wave of cases. Globally, the confirmed case tally rose above 572.5 million on Wednesday, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins, while the death toll is above 6.38 million with the U.S. leading the world with 90.7 million cases and 1,027,912 deaths.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.