The new CDC guidelines relax the criteria for concern about COVID-191 risk and permit a decrease in public health protective mandates. The People’s CDC is issuing a reminder that we are still in a pandemic for which precautionary measures remain critical. Preventive measures to help protect you and those around you, such as indoor masking and avoidance of crowded indoor venues, remain prudent in much of the US2. Getting vaccinated and boosted continues to prevent many hospitalizations and deaths3 4. This is especially important if you are at greater risk of getting very sick from COVID or if you are in contact with vulnerable people5, including the elderly; cancer patients and survivors; the chronically ill; those overweight or obese; the pregnant; the immunocompromised; smokers; and the unvaccinated, which includes kids under 5.
Following the record high transmissions seen in January and February, for the past week the US has averaged approximately 30,000 new cases daily6. We continue to see an astonishing average of 1,000 daily COVID deaths7.
With the relaxed CDC criteria, a flood of American optimism, corporate pressure to get back to business as usual, well-funded campaigns of misinformation and disinformation8, and a public that has been misled to believe that disappearing mandates mean minimal risk, we fear the US has become unnecessarily vulnerable to a new surge. We urge you to continue using protective measures9 to help control the spread of COVID or, if you have stopped, resume using them.
Further, the People’s CDC calls for the US CDC to improve COVID-19 surveillance and bolster efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We insist that Congress immediately pass the $20 billion supplemental COVID supply bill10 for vaccinations, masks, tests, treatments and public health department support. We implore state and local governments to intensify efforts to expand vaccination and booster access and uptake, and make quality masks as well as home testing and post diagnosis treatments equitably accessible. The People’s CDC contends it is not too late for all levels of government to work together to hire, educate, and mobilize significant community worker forces in local health departments to educate, vaccinate, and supply underserved communities and staff skilled nursing facilities and other congregate living institutions so that we will all be better prepared for the next surge.
Several, Asian, African, and European countries are showing signs of a new surge11. The main causes appear to be gaps in immune protection (from a mixture of factors such as undervaccination, waning vaccine effectiveness12, and declining use of protective measures13 14 15) and an even more contagious version of Omicron, known as BA.216.
In the US BA.2 already accounted for approximately 23% of newly diagnosed cases as of March 12 and increased to nearly 35% of cases by March 1817. Nearly 40% of US wastewater surveillance sites have shown increasing amounts of virus in the past 15 days18. Given these indicators, there is a significant possibility of a new surge of infections in the United States in the coming weeks. Now is the time to take preventive measures to help avoid another surge in the US.
6 https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#trends_dailycases (Accessed March 23, 2022)
7 https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#trends_dailydeaths (Accessed March 23, 2022)
8 How Dark Money Shaped The School Safety Debate (levernews.com)
9 See the protective measures we recommend you use as layers of protection at https://peoplescdc.org/2022/03/11/covid-19-weather-report/
10 Impasse Over New Covid Relief Aid, Neither Side Is Willing to Bend, NY Times, March 15,2022
11 Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 – 15 March 2022 (who.int)
17 CDC COVID Data Tracker, Variant Proportions, NOWCAST for week ending March 12, 2022. Accessed March 23, 2022.
18 https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#wastewater-surveillance Accessed March 23, 2022