Fewer people are checking into American hotels as infections have surged higher, according to data from hospitality sector analytics firm STR.

Overall occupancy dropped to 48.8 percent in the first two weeks of January, 16.3 percent lower than the comparable week in 2019, STR reported Friday.

This is a sudden reversal from December, when occupancy had recovered almost completely to prepandemic levels.  For December, STR reported that occupancy was just 1.3 percent below December 2019 levels.

The average daily room rate for January was $122.12, 1.6 percent below the early January 2019 level. In December, rates were averaging 6.7 percent above prepandemic levels.

On a revenue per room basis, January 2021 has been 17.6 percent below January 2019. December’s was 5.2 percent above the period in 2019.

STR comments:

On an absolute basis, occupancy was higher than the previous week, but the gap to 2019 levels widened, pointing to a larger impact from the omicron variant. ADR and RevPAR were up week over week and when indexed to 2019.

While none of the top 25 markets recorded an occupancy increase over 2019, Norfolk/Virginia Beach came closest to its pre-pandemic comparable (-8.4% to 44.1%).

San Francisco/San Mateo experienced the largest occupancy decrease from 2019 (-53.9% to 37.3%).

Miami registered the largest ADR increase (+16.6% to $271.21).

On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported an unexpected jump in initial claims for jobless benefits, which may be related to layoffs due to people pulling back on activity in light of the recent survey of covid cases.