The number of new weekly COVID-19 cases in the United States has dropped by more than half since the beginning of September, according to pandemic data published by Johns Hopkins University.

Data published by the university shows that for the week of Sept. 5, the number of new cases was at 1.14 million, followed by two additional weeks of more than 1 million new cases.

But those numbers appear to be trending downward. The week of Oct. 18, 509,903 new cases were reported in the nation, which shows a major decrease in new infections nationwide.

The downward trend in COVID-19 cases was also echoed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that announced on Wednesday that new cases and deaths have reached their lowest levels in more than a year.

PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa said North, South and Central America reported more than 800,000 new infections and 18,000 deaths over the last seven days, a sharp decrease from past weeks that were caused by the delta variant.

“We have reason to be optimistic, but we must remain vigilant,” Barbosa said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

Locally, Rock County reported 45 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the countywide total to 19,742 cases and 217 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Rock County Public Health Department.

The health department reports an average of 157 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last seven days as an estimated 662 cases remain active in the county.

As of Tuesday, the most recent day when data was available, 12 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment in Rock County hospitals, the lowest number since Sept. 27 when 10 patients were hospitalized.

Across Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services (DHS) reports the state saw an average of 1,825 COVID-19 cases and 17 additional virus-related deaths over the last seven days. The state has a test positivity average of 7.3% as 57.7% of residents have received one COVID-19 vaccine and 55% are now fully vaccinated.

In Winnebago County, Illinois the health department reports an average of 180 new cases per 100,000 residents have been recorded over the last seven days. The county has a test positivity rate of 4.3% as 46.8% of residents are fully vaccinated.

Across Illinois, the state reports a seven day test positivity rate of 2.2% and a completed vaccination rate of 56.7%.