Although a study in Japan showed that the omicron variant of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 appears more transmissible than the delta variant, according to a Bloomberg report , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the omicron cases seen so far in the U.S. have been mostly mild. Meanwhile, the global tally for COVID-19 rose to a total of 268.0 million on Thursday and the death toll climbed to more than 5.28 million, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University . The U.S. leads the world with a total COVID-19 case count of 49.5 million and death toll of 793,228. The daily average case count rose to 121,311 on Wednesday, the highest since Sept. 24, and a 27% increase from two weeks ago, according to a New York Times tracker . The daily average death toll slipped to 1,275 from 1,298 on Tuesday, but was up 12% from a week ago, while hospitalizations increased 20% to eight-week high of 61,936. The number of fully vaccinated in the U.S. of people at least 12 years old rose to 198.53 million, or 70% of the population.