People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


The Weather: We remain in a sustained COVID surge and the transmission map shows that 99% of people in the US live in areas with high or substantial transmission.

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 96.38 percent of the population or 91.88 percent of counties. An additional 2.82 percent of the population and 4.96% 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. There is also a small area in the Northeast encompassing Western New York, and parts of New England, that demonstrate moderate-to-substantial transmission. The graphic is visualized by the People’s CDC and the data are from the CDC.

Watch the spread here:

According to one national lab’s #COVID19 Index, the test positivity rate for the week ending July 15 in the US was 41.3%, an increase of 7.1% from the previous week.

On Variants: BA.4/5 are now the dominant variants in the US at an estimated 81% of cases.

A bar chart shows data for the weeks of 4/2/2022 through 7/9/2022 with levels for each viral lineage shown vertically. In early April, BA.2 was the dominant lineage, with small levels of B.1.1.529 and BA.1. As time goes on, BA.2.12.1 starts to grow, and the aforementioned variants shrink.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. As of 07/09/2022, they overtake others, now representing more than 70 percent of cases, with the predominant strain being BA.5. The pattern of growth of BA.5 over the aforementioned time period appears to be exponential.

BA.5 alone is the most infectious variant yet, accounting for 65% of new infections last week.

Dr. Eric Topol, a virologist, shares the story of BA.5’s substantial evolution from previous Omicron variants and its ability to evade immunity from vaccines and past infections, leading to increased risk of reinfection.

In other variant news, a new study found that vaccine effectiveness to prevent moderate to severe disease decreased against BA2.12 compared to BA.1, which further confirmed the recommendation for vulnerable groups to receive a 2nd booster dose. 

Another variant, BA.2.75 has been detected in India, UK, US, Australia, Germany, and Canada. Virologists are concerned by BA.2.75’s mutations, including several in a region of the spike protein, a key place for antibodies to bind to stop the virus.

The BA.5 subvariant makes up more than half of cases in every region.

A grayscale map of the US that sections the country into 10 separate regions. On top of each region are color-coded pie charts which indicate the proportion of 4 total variants in each region for the week ending on July 9, 2022. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, in light and dark green, respectively, have overtaken BA2.12, in red, making up over half of cases in every single region of the country. BA.5 makes up half or more of all variants in every region. Text at the top reads, “United States: 7/2/2022 - 7/9/2022 NOWCAST,” and at the bottom right corner, “Regional proportions from specimens collected from specimens collected the week ending 7/9/2022.”

Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater data from @BiobotAnalytics shows that last week’s plateau has changed to a sharp increase. Our current levels match the peak levels of 2020 and 2021, yet we have far fewer protections in place.

A graph with overlapping lines indicating differences between wastewater viral concentration, in dark blue, and daily clinical cases, in light blue, from June 2020 - July 13, 2022. The x axis is the date, and the y axis on the left states ““Wastewater: Effective SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration, copies / mL of sewage,” while y axis on the right states “Clinical: daily new cases.” The clinical cases and daily average have fairly consistent peaks and valleys. The wastewater line appears steady through most of June, before increasing by over 200,000 cases and over 300 copies per milliliter of virus concentration between the end of June through July 13th. The two lines are visibly discrepant, with the wastewater levels line consistently higher than the daily clinical cases line. The lines are particularly discrepant during the peaks. They were especially discrepant during the winter 2021-2022 peak, and again noted in the peak that continues to July 2022. The source is indicated at the bottom, “Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc.; Clinical data from USAFacts.”

Regionally all areas are now increasing, with the West increasing as well but at a slower rate than other regions. 

A line graph shows the concentration of COVID virus in wastewater in four regions of the US: the west including Alaska and Hawaii, the midwest, the south and mid-atlantic, and the northeast over the last 6 weeks ending July 13th. Levels in all regions are increasing, with levels in the south and mid-atlantic the highest at about 1,200 copies per milliliter of sewage. Data from Biobot Analytics.

Hospitalizations: For 12 weeks in a row, hospitalizations have been rising nationally. After a brief dip in the Northeast, rates are rising again – showing little protection against BA.5 from the previous surges. All regions are now seeing increased hospitalizations.

A line chart with “United States All Ages,” as its title, “New Admissions per 100,000 Population” on its y-axis, and dates from January 2021 to July 2022 on its x-axis. The dotted line indicates peaks in admissions around January 2021, August 2021, and January 2022, with hospitalizations rising from spring 2022 to July 2022.

Antimicrobial-resistant infections in hospitals had been on the decline before COVID, but have now risen, illustrating how unsustainable the strain on the already under-resourced US healthcare system is, with wide-reaching harms to overall patient care.

On Long COVID: Almost 1 in 5 adults who have had COVID continue to experience long term health issues related to their infection.  

Long term health problems can emerge even after mild or asymptomatic COVID cases and for people with no previous health conditions. An estimated 26 million people so far have been affected by Long COVID.

A line graph with a time range from April 2020 to July 2022, showing the cumulative rising number of estimated cases of Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, shortened to be named PASC --otherwise known as Long COVID--in relation to all COVID Surviving Cases from July 2020 through July 2022.To date, there are about 88.3 million survivors of COVID and about 30 percent of them, or 26.5 million people, experience long term health issues.

People living with Long COVID are leading vital research, support, and advocacy efforts.

Deaths: From July 7 to July 13, 2,531 people died of COVID nationally, bringing the overall US total COVID deaths reported to 1,018,578, including at least 1,694 children under the age of 18.

Cumulative deaths in the US, UK, and EU vastly outpace those in South Korea, Australia, and Japan according to a Financial Times analysis of several global dashboards.

This figure is a line graph titled “Cumulative deaths attributed to COVID-19 in US, UK, European Union, South Korean, Japan and Australia” There are 6 colored lines: maroon for Japan, red for Australia, light blue for South Korea, lime for EU, pink for UK, and dark blue for US. The x-axis demonstrates time from January 2020 through July 2022. The y-axis represents cumulative deaths per 100,000. South Korea and Australia appear to be very close to 0, before increasing to 50 and 40, respectively. Japan demonstrates a slow, steady increase starting around March of 2021, currently at about 20 deaths per 100,000. The US, UK, and EU lines are much higher, increasing rapidly over time with 2 periods of slower rates of increase from May through October 2020, and again in the beginning of 2021 through July of 2021. As of July 2022, the US has the highest cumulative deaths, at about 300 per 100,000; the UK is around 250, and the EU is a little above 240. Source is financial times analysis of data from Johns Hopkins CSSE, that cites multiple global public health ministries and organizations.

Many of us have lost loved ones to COVID or know someone who has and we grieve these losses together as we fight to prevent more avoidable deaths.

On Monkeypox: The US has had over 1,400 confirmed cases of monkeypox and the slow federal response to this outbreak repeats many of the mistakes made with COVID.  

We need accessible tests, treatment, vaccines, contact tracing, and social supports to help contain the spread of monkeypox, COVID, and future viral outbreaks. Cooperation on a globally coordinated scale could help to prevent outbreaks in the first place.

Forecast: The FDA has authorized emergency use of Novavax, an additional COVID vaccine.  

The FDA has also recommended updated vaccine development tailored to the new variants, but updates would not be available until at least mid-fall.

New Zealand is responding to BA.5 with new measures to slow transmission, including expanding access to masks and rapid tests.

The belief that viruses inevitably evolve into milder versions is a myth. BA.5 is a problem and we should still do all that we can to prevent infections.

The Biden Administration, state, and local leaders can still implement measures to reduce the spread of the virus and make our communities safer for everyone. We must act on our care for one another by demanding they meet the ongoing crisis with the seriousness it deserves.

Dealing with the current crisis is crucial both in the short term and long term given that climate change and the effects of ongoing environmental destruction mean an increased risk of the emergence of harmful viruses in the years ahead.

Be Prepared: The new dominant variants are more likely to infect people even if they’ve been vaccinated or have had COVID before.  

Staying up to date with vaccinations reduces the odds of death and severe illness, but additional protections are needed to prevent infection and passing COVID to others.

As a reminder, N95 respirators should be NIOSH-certified. @projectn95 is one resource.

A recent study found that when used together with other measures, frequent rapid-antigen testing can help reduce spread. With every other day testing, all rapid antigen test brands can work to contain COVID outbreaks.

We continue to recommend that everyone use layers of protection to reduce infections as much as possible. Check out The People’s CDC guides for info on how to keep yourself and your community safer as we push for needed structural changes at federal and state levels.

We urgently need public health policy measures like mask mandates, improved air quality, paid sick leave, unemployment support, eviction freezes, decarceration, and universal healthcare. 

Our government could make life-saving policy changes, but continues to stall on putting the necessary funds towards a truly effective pandemic response. It pours more money than any other country into the military, approving an $839 billion budget for 2023.

Meanwhile, the world’s wealthiest have extracted even more wealth from the majority of people and planet during the pandemic. It does not have to be this way.

Together with our neighbors, coworkers, and communities, we can organize to make powerful demands for a society where our public resources and infrastructure go towards meeting our shared needs.

Sources: Check out the links throughout and see our website for more!

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