It’s not over: COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the United States
It’s not over: COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the United States

It’s not over: COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the United States

Once again, the United States is trudging into what could be yet another COVID-19 rise, with coronavirus infections rising in most states and nationally after a two-month decline.

A big unknown? “We do not know how high that mountain is going to grow,” he said Dr. Stuart Campbell Rayan expert in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University.

No one expects a peak near as high as the last, as the highly contagious Omicron variant ripped through the population.

But experts warn that the coming wave – caused by an Omicron subvariant is called BA.2 it is thought to be about 30% more contagious than the original Omicron – will wash over the entire nation. They worry that hospital admissions, which are already ticking up in some parts of the Northeast, will increase in more states in the coming weeks. And the case wave will be bigger than it looks, they add, because reported numbers are huge underdogs as more people test at home without reporting their infections or skip the test altogether.

At the height of the previous Omicron rise, daily inventories of newly reported cases reached hundreds of thousands. As of Thursday, the seven-day rolling average for new cases rose to 39,521, up from 30,724 two weeks earlier, according to data from Johns Hopkins collected by the Associated Press.

Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the numbers are likely to continue to grow until the rise reaches about a quarter of the height of the last “monstrous”. BA.2 may well have the same effect in the US as in Israel, where it created a “bump” in cases, he said.

Keeping the rise a bit in check, experts said, is one higher level of immunity in the United States from vaccination or previous infection now compared to the early winter.

But Ray said the United States could end up looking like Europe, where the BA.2 increase was “significant” in some places that had comparable levels of immunity. “We could get a significant increase here,” he said.

Both experts said BA.2 will gradually move through the country. The Northeast has been hit hardest so far, with more than 90% of new infections caused by BA.2 last week, compared to 86% nationwide. As of Thursday, the highest numbers of new COVID cases per capita over the past 14 days were in Vermont, Rhode Island, Alaska, New York and Massachusetts.

In Washington, DC, which also ranks in the top 10 for the number of new cases, Howard University announced that it moved most undergraduate classes online for the rest of the semester due to “a significant increase in COVID-19 positivity” in district and on campus.

Some states, such as Rhode Island and New Hampshire, saw the average of daily new cases more than double in two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said that despite increasing cases, hospital admissions remain relatively low, and that is the goal they are most focused on right now. About 55 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, compared to more than 600 at one point in the pandemic.

Officials credit high vaccination rates. State statistics show that 99% of Rhode Island adults are at least partially vaccinated, and 48% have received the booster dose that researchers say is key to protecting against serious illness with Omicron.

Vermont also has relatively high levels of vaccination and fewer patients in the hospital than below the height of the first Omicron wave. But Dr. Mark Levinethe health commissioner there, said hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care units have both increased slightly, although deaths have not increased.

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that new hospitalizations of patients with confirmed coronavirus infections increased slightly in New England and the New York region.

On the west coast, model builders from Oregon Health & Science University predict a slight increase in hospital admissions over the next two months in this state, where cases have also risen sharply.

As the wave moves across the country, experts said states with low vaccination rates could face significantly more infections and serious cases ending up in the hospital.

Ray said government leaders need to be careful about striking the right note when talking to people about protecting themselves and others after COVID restrictions have been largely lifted. Philadelphia recently became the first major American city to be created reintroduce its indoor mesh mandate after a sharp increase in infections. But Vermont’s Levine said there were no plans to bring back any of the restrictions imposed earlier in the pandemic.

“It will be difficult to impose restrictive, draconian measures,” Ray said. “Fortunately, we have some tools that we can use to reduce the risk. And so I hope managers will emphasize the importance of people keeping an eye on the numbers,” be aware of risks and consider taking precautions such as wearing masks and be vaccinated and boosted if they are not already.

Lynne Richmond, a 59-year-old breast cancer survivor living in Silver Spring, Md., Said she plans to get her second COVID-19 booster shot and continue to wear her mask in public as cases rise in her state and in nearby Washington, DC

“I never really stopped wearing my mask. … I’ve been ultra-vigilant,” she said. “I feel like I’ve gotten this far; I do not want to get COVID.”

Vigilance is a good strategy, experts said, because coronavirus constantly throws curveballs. One of the most recent: even more infectious subvariants of BA.2 found in the state of New York, known as BA.2.12 and BA.2.12.1. And scientists warn that potentially dangerous new varieties could occur at any time.

“We should not think that the pandemic is over,” Topol said. “We still should keep our guard up. “

Associated Press writer Wilson Ring of Stowe, Vt., Contributed to this report.

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