(The Hill) – The U.S. on Tuesday set a single-day record of new COVID-19 infections, with 441,278 new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The numbers surpass the previous high of about 290,000 cases reported on Dec. 20. That nearly passed the previous daily record of 294,015 set last January, before vaccines were widely available.

The seven-day moving average is now more than 240,000 cases a day.

The record case number represents the grim reality of the omicron variant, which has proven to be the most transmissible strain of the novel coronavirus the U.S. has seen since the pandemic began. 

But according to the CDC, the data is incomplete because many testing sites were closed over Christmas and states are still sorting through a backlog of cases. 

Omicron is responsible for the majority of infections in the country and has sent the numbers skyrocketing, even in parts of the country that are highly vaccinated.

Still, people who are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations will likely experience milder symptoms, and are at low risk for hospitalization and severe disease. 

Some health experts think the U.S. needs to start shifting away from focusing on case numbers, and give more significance to hospitalizations and deaths.

But there’s still about 40 percent of the nation that is unvaccinated, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising, albeit much less among the vaccinated. 

Rising case numbers still say something about the disease, and the spikes from omicron are leading to real concerns. With many more people getting infected, an additional large number of them are likely to require hospitalizations, putting further strain on the system.