The COVID Digest, 04Aug2022
Monkeypox is a public health emergency
Hello readers! Today’s newsletter will have an update on the COVID-19 numbers from a national and state perspective (Georgia). I’ll also go over some updates on Monkeypox.
Let’s begin with the likelihood that you’ll be exposed to COVID-19 based on your county. For this, we need to consult the Community Transmission Level map from CDC. Not a lot has changed since last week. There is just disease everywhere.
Click on the map to explore your county. Nationwide, 98% of US counties are in a high or substantial risk of exposure category. Previous guidance indicated that these counties should be wearing masks.
Next, let’s take a look at how COVID-19 is impacting hospitals across the US. For this, we look at the Community Levels map from CDC. It uses a combination of recent COVID-19 case rate, COVID-19 admission rates and the percent of hospitalized patients who are there for COVID-19 to estimate the degree of difficulty one might experience if they needed to access a hospital bed. Of note, hospitals can be busy for a wide variety of illnesses and conditions, but this map gives us an estimate of COVID-19’s burden.
Again, we see a pretty large number of counties (42% of the US counties) that are in a high community level.
So what can we expect this fall? Around this time last year is when the Delta wave really got going in the South. Schools across the country are about to start the new academic year, if they haven’t done so already. We enter this season with a lot of immunity on board - either through vaccination or infection. But we don’t know what to expect about that immunity against infection both its durability in general and particularly against the variants that are circulating these days. We also enter this season with few if any disease prevention measures in place. So as I’m asked what to expect in the fall, I am telling friends that they should 100% expect to be exposed to the virus. If that worries them, then they have choices they can make regarding reducing their risk. I strongly advise people to be up to date on their vaccines, avoid indoor crowds and confined indoor spaces, and to test if/when they have symptoms.
I am hopeful that the new vaccines that are expected to be released in October will help to blunt the winter wave that I think most of us expect to see. The new vaccines will use a more recent variant for conferring protection, but even the more up to date variant isn’t the current one. Hopefully there is sufficient cross-protection even if it isn’t a perfect match. But the pandemic can’t really be over if we continue to see successive winters where the disease impact is even greater than the winter before.
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