People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Current Situation – “The Weather”: As BA4/5 increasingly become the dominant new strains, we remain at a sustained surge nationally. The transmission map shows that 99% of people in the US are still at high or substantial transmission.

The need for updated vaccines, masking & ventilation is urgent as are community mitigation strategies such as paid sick leave, eviction protections, & unemployment support.

This map and corresponding table show COVID community transmission in the US by county. Most of the US map is red, indicating high levels at 96.67 percent of the population or 86.7 percent of counties. An additional 2.94 percent of the population or 8.85 percent of counties are in areas with substantial transmission, in orange. Thus, over 99 percent of the US population lives in an area with high or substantial COVID transmission. Only the middle vertical line of the contiguous US--the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas--show a higher concentration of moderate and low transmission, in yellow and blue, respectively. The graphic is visualized by the People’s CDC and the data are from the CDC.

Watch the spread here:

On Variants: Only weeks ago it seemed BA2.12 would take over, but BA4/5 have instead swept the US, at 52% of cases. This rapid growth, after high levels of infections all year, shows how transmissible and immune-evasive these new variants are.

A chart showing weeks 3/12/2022 through 6/25/2022 with levels for each viral lineage shown vertically. In mid March, BA.1.1 was the dominant lineage, with small levels of B.1.1.529 and BA.2. As time goes on, BA.2 starts to grow, and BA.1.1 and B.1.1.529 shrink. Around the end of March, BA.2.12.1 appears and then grows. In mid-May, BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 are equally found. By 5/21/2022, BA.2.12.1 overtakes BA.2 as the dominant variant. In early May, BA.4 and BA.5 appear, and together represent more than 50 percent of cases by 6/25/22.

In the Northeast, where BA2.12 was first observed, BA4/5 are not yet the dominant strain, which may explain the brief lull in hospitalizations there. However, BA4/5 make up more than half of cases in every other region.

A grayscale map of the US shows proportions of COVID variants in 10 regions with pink, red, light & dark green pie charts corresponding to different variants. The pie charts show that BA2.12, in red, is the largest proportion of variants in all regions. Since last week, the proportion of BA2, in pink, has decreased. BA4 & BA5, in light & dark green, respectively, are also present in each of the pie charts but are most prominent in Region 10, the Northwest; Region 9, California, Nevada, Arizona, the Pacific islands, & over 157 federally-recognized tribes; Region 6, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, & Texas, as well as 68 federally-recognized tribes; and the Midwest. On the bottom right, text says "Regional proportions from specimens collected the week ending 6/25/2022. US territories not shown are included in HHS regions: Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands - Region 2; American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam; Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau - Region 9."

Unless we use layers of protection to keep cases lower, the virus will continue to mutate and cause new surges. A new variant, BA2.75, with the potential to overtake BA4/5 has already been identified; we’ll report on the situation as more data becomes available.

Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater data also clearly show we are in a sustained surge, with a long plateau never previously seen in the pandemic. This is the predictable result of removing all protections & allowing the virus to circulate freely.

A graph shows differences in wastewater viral concentration & daily clinical cases. At the top left is a legend. The top line, in solid blue, indicates viral concentration as determined by wastewater. The bottom line, in light blue, represents a daily average of clinical cases & follows the same pattern but is slightly lower throughout & much lower during large COVID waves. Bars in the same light blue color represent the total amount of clinical daily cases. There are small spikes in the graph in April 2020, January 2021, & September 2021, and a large spike in January 2022. The end of the graph shows low levels in April 2022 but a rapid increase until June 8th. More recently, there is a slight dip in numbers. For the most part, wastewater & cases lines track together, but the wastewater line rises sooner & moves higher than the cases line especially in recent spikes. At the bottom, text reads "Source: Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc; Clinical data from USAFacts."

Hospitalizations: For 10 weeks in a row – since April 11 –  hospitalizations continue to rise nationally, currently at 1.47 hospitalizations per 100,000 people. This long-term drain on our healthcare system is not sustainable.

A line chart titled “United States All Ages” shows New Admissions per 100,000 Population. A gray line shows spikes around January 2021, August 2021, and January 2022. The most recent July 1, 2022 level is 1.49. Data from CDC.

Hospitalizations have dipped in the Northeastern states but continue to climb in every other region. Future data will help us understand if BA4/5 cause more hospitalizations due to more severe disease, incredibly rapid spread, or some combination of the two.

Deaths: In the past week, from June 23 to June 29, 2,221 people died of COVID nationally. At the half-way point of the year – with vaccines & treatment but no emphasis on prevention with high-quality masks, testing, or ventilation – over 187,000 people have died of COVID in 2022.

Be Prepared: The FDA recommended boosters for fall be updated to match Omicron – specifically BA4/5. This is key, as all vaccines so far are for the original 2020 virus. New boosters can have a bigger impact on preventing infection AND reducing severe disease.

Reminder: children under 5 are eligible & receiving vaccines finally, which provide important protection. However, national vaccine rates are low – only 106 million residents out of 330 million have full vaccination + booster. How can you help your community get boosted this fall?

Forecast: The White House directed $3.2B to Pfizer for 105 million doses of vaccine that could be ready this fall. These funds will be pulled from other important areas, including testing and variant tracking, PPE, ventilators, and research on a universal COVID vaccine.

New analysis shows what @PeoplesCDC has long stated: low-income & other marginalized groups face higher levels of COVID exposure and suffer worse health & socioeconomic outcomes.

By prioritizing low-income & other marginalized groups for vaccines, treatment & improved workplace ventilation and continuing to organize for things like paid sick leave, unemployment supports, eviction protections, & universal healthcare, we can address this inequity.

A chart titled “Trend in percent missing work due to COVID by 2019 income among all US 18-64 year olds.” The top red line indicates the highest percentage of missed work due to COVID was consistently in the less than $50K income category between 31 August 2020 and 13 June 2022. The next highest blue line indicates the percent of missed work due to COVID in the $50K-100K income category, followed by a lower gray line for the $100-200K income category and the lowest percentage (i.e. never more than 1 percent missed work due to COVID) black line indicates the $200K or more income category.  Data from Census Household Pulse Surveys @JuliaFarrman+@aaronsojourner.

On Long COVID: A new study analyzing the health records of over half of the Danish population found that those who had tested positive for COVID were at 2.7x increased risk for ischemic strokes, again highlighting that COVID is far from the common cold.

Actions to Take! NPR reported this week on why & how to improve ventilation to prevent COVID. Ventilation expert Joey Fox also explained how to use CO2 monitors to keep your home & business safer!

And a reminder, if you have COVID, self-isolate to the extent possible & test out with 2 negative tests, like at-home rapids. Recent data continue to show that many people infected with Omicron strains can still have active virus & infect others after day 5.

Another important virus to watch, 460 Monkeypox cases have been reported in 29 states, DC & PR, with little other info so far. Cases continue to rise rapidly in Europe. In NYC, limited vaccines were eagerly taken up among MSM & their partners; vaccine supplies must be increased

Testing was limited but has expanded to more labs. We need better surveillance & contact tracing; we expect cases to spread to other communities. There are no deaths yet, but monkeypox can be very painful & cause severe disease among immunocompromised, children & pregnant people.

Sources: See the web version for hyperlinks to the articles referenced.

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