People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


This is the @PeoplesCDC weekly update for May 8, 2022! The People’s CDC supports people the world over who want to know how to stay safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Weather Report sheds light on the COVID-19 situation in the United States.

The Current Situation – “The Weather”: The surge that started in the Northeast is now extending across the country, driven even more by the new BA.2.12 variant.

Using the CDC transmission levels (not the hospitalization-focused “Community Levels”), high case levels are now across most of the nation. Even these cases are likely underreported, as more folks use home tests.

Map of the U.S. by county, showing high transmission (red, 1085 counties, 33.67 percent, change of 7.32 percent) across New England and scattered in other regions including the Midwest, Nebraska, and the West Coast; the rest is substantial (orange, 629 counties, 19.52 percent), change of 0 percent)) moderate (yellow, 1076 counties, 33.4 percent), -3.41 percent)) and low (blue, 429 counties, 13.31 percent), change of -3.94 percent)) transmission.

This video shows transmission levels changing since March 15, 2022 till May 5. While there was a brief lull in March, the Northeast begins turning red in early April and by the end of April, high levels have spread across the country.

Video description: Video shows counties with high transmission (red) are sparse and mostly in coastal states starting in March 15, with most counties in the low (blue) or moderate (yellow) ranges. In late April, many more counties become substantial (orange) and high (red).

Overall, this means that over half of US residents – 57% –  are living in a county with high transmission, up from 49% last week. Another 22% are living in an area of substantial transmission.

BA.1 , the original Omicron strain from the winter, has been replaced almost completely throughout the country. While BA.2 is still the most common variant, the Northeastern variant BA.2.12 is now spreading rapidly. 

A map of the U.S. with pie charts over 10 regions. Each regional pie chart indicates a large number of cases are BA2 (pink), but some new slices of BA2.12 appear in red. The red slices are largest in the Northeast (over half) east coast regions (around 40 percent)  the midwest (nearly 30 percent).

In addition, two new variants from South Africa, BA4 and BA5, have been identified in the U.S. 

Wastewater data does not rely on testing. Nationally, rates are slowly increasing and are now at levels similar to late October 2021.

A graph of two lines. The top line (solid blue) represents viral concentration as determined by wastewater. The bottom line(light blue) represents daily clinical cases and follows the same pattern but is slightly lower. The graph features small spikes in April 2020, January 2021, and September 2021, and a large spike in January 2022. The end of the graph shows low levels in April 2022 but a small increase in wastewater virus concentration.

Regionally, Northeast levels (yellow/top) are highest and still rising. Midwest (purple/top middle) and South (pink/bottom) are slowly increasing. There’s an unusual downturn for the West (green/middle), which we’ll review again next week.

A graph of four lines over the last 6 weeks: the Northeast line (yellow) is the highest and nearly double the level of the others, rising steadily; the Midwest (purple), South (pink), and West (green) regions are lower. The Midwest and South are flattening, and the West is decreasing in week 6.

Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator that tell us who was infected 1-2 weeks ago. Hospitalizations are increasing in almost every region of the nation now. In the Northeast, hospitalizations are as high as during the Delta wave. 

First line graph from the CDC shows peaks in hospitalizations during each surge for the Northeast region, then a rapid decline in Feb 2022, and now a small upturn in April 2022. Second line graph from the CDC shows the same data separated by age group, with older groups showing much higher levels of hospitalization.

Last week, 2,342 people died of COVID-19 in the U.S. Many outlets reported that the U.S. death toll has exceeded 1 million; the CDC still reports slightly lower numbers. We emphasize that the official death toll is undercounted…

… and stand in solidarity with all those affected and in solemn reflection and remembrance of all we have lost.

Be prepared, whatever the weather: Vaccination rates remain virtually unchanged, < 46% of the population boosted. Additional boosters are available to everyone over 50 and any immunosuppressed individuals over 12. 

Up-to-date vaccinations with boosters provide great protection against severe illness and death. They also reduce but don’t completely stop infections and transmission- so we need to use multiple layers of protection for everyone.

A new study on COVID in schools during spring 2021 found that although in-person schooling was associated with increased risks of COVID-19 cases in the household, cases were reduced or eliminated when layered protections were used.

Vaccination (not shown here) was very important; other layers to reduce cases were teacher & student masking, limiting school entry & daily symptom screens. Note: smaller Odds Ratio means less chance of COVID, which they measured in 3 ways.

A chart of 15 protective measures on the x-axis and odds ratios on the y-axis; a dark line at 1 indicates no difference. For each measure, there are three dots, each a way COVID was measured: COVID-like illness, loss of taste/smell, and overall positive test. The four measures listed - student masking, teacher masking, restricted entry, and daily symptom screen - each have all three dots below 1, meaning they were associated with fewer COVID cases.

Notably, this study did not evaluate ventilation or air filtration impacts, which we would expect also to have a profound impact. Check out

Forecast: As we mentioned last week, we expect deaths to start increasing following the increase in hospitalizations. Even the CDC forecasts 5000 deaths in the next 2 weeks, with a plan to… do absolutely nothing about it. This fight is not yet over.

Two line graphs from the CDC. Both show February 15 till June 1 2022 on the x-axis. The first has weekly deaths on the y-axis; the curve has been declining but from May to June, the projection starts increasing up to about 3,000 weekly deaths, with a wide confidence interval. The second graph shows total deaths, which are gradually rising now but also show a slightly steeper incline in May.

On Long Covid: We are learning more about Long Covid every day. Patients report experiencing a range of symptoms, sometimes completely different from when first infected. Sometimes Long Covid lasts a few weeks or months, other times it lasts over a year.

New data out of the UK shows “among triple-vaccinated adults, the prevalence of Long Covid was 8.5% for Delta and 8.0% for Omicron BA.1.” Meaning 1 in 12 triple-vaxed patients that get Covid will develop Long Covid. h/t @loscharlos

Some people have been experiencing Long Covid since March 2020. Despite other viruses being known to cause chronic illness, Long Covid patients often struggle with being taken seriously by their provider. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing Long Covid and would like to contribute to our collective understanding of the condition or would like to join a support group, you can visit the Patient-Lead Research Collaborative on Long Covid.

Tiny Tip: Whenever possible, open the windows! Improving ventilation can help reduce transmission.

Gif of woman opening window.
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