People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report

Published

The Weather: We remain in a sustained COVID surge: every week since early June, 99% of the US population lives in high or substantial transmission. We’re currently working to update our transmission map to improve accessibility and clarity.

In the meantime, let’s talk about why the map most often shared by the CDC, the Community Levels map, is not only misleading, but is also being used to justify the inaction of the federal government.

First, it doesn’t help you, a person who wants to avoid getting or spreading COVID – which we’ve discussed in detail in a previous video:

Second, the calculations used for this map rely on data that are confusing at best, misleading at worst.

In fact, if adjustments were made to account for things such as case undercounts, even more of the country would be considered to have “high” community levels. For more on those data, check out this twitter thread: https://twitter.com/chiya_serena/status/1555560210533687296 

By relying on this Community Levels map for months while the harder-to-find transmission map quickly turned red, the government was able to send a false message that the pandemic was largely over.

And now, as the Community Levels map itself turns orange (this map’s version of red), it’s clear the government’s campaign to stop us from thinking about COVID did not, in fact, protect us from COVID at all.

We need to continue pressuring the federal government to do their jobs: we need paid sick leave; free and easily accessible PPE, vaccines, and treatment; and federal help to create safer work spaces and schools. 

At minimum, the government should be transparent about the fact that we are in a sustained COVID surge.

 This map and corresponding table, sourced from the CDC, show county-level COVID community levels in the US as of August 4, 2022. The table’s legend notes 41.7 percent of counties and 55.1 percent of the population are experiencing high community levels, as indicated on the map by a pale orange color; 38.9 percent of counties and 29.5 percent of the population are experiencing medium community levels, indicated by a pale yellow; and 19.4 percent of counties and 15.4 percent of the population are experiencing low community levels, indicated by a very light, pale blue. Most of the US map is orange and yellow, with the gulf coast, appalachia, and portions of Alaska, Hawaii, and the central US and pacific coast experiencing high community levels; the northeast and portions of the pacific northwest and central US experiencing low community levels; and areas of medium transmission scattered throughout the map.

In fact, a recent survey shows that people *would* wear masks if they knew the US was in a surge. Many are waiting for the CDC and government officials to tell them, clearly and honestly, that this is the case; at that point, masking would likely go up in public places.

Table with the title, “If COVID-19 cases were to increase again in your area, how likely, if at all, are you to wear a mask outside of the home?” The first column’s header is “wave” and includes July 15-18, June 10-13, May 13-016, April 8-11, and March 11-14, all from 2022. Responses are broken down into two sets of additional columns. The first set includes headers for “very likely,” “somewhat likely,” “not very likely,” “not at all likely,” and “skipped”; the second set includes headers for “total very likely/somewhat likely,” and “total not very likely/not at all likely.” The data in this table suggest that most people are either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to wear a mask outside of the home if cases were to increase, and that this attitude has remained relatively stable over time, with 74 percent of respondents indicating they would do so in March, 71 percent in April, 72 percent in May, 68 percent in June, and 70 percent in July.

Deaths: From July 29 to August 4, 2,754 people died of COVID nationally.  

On Long COVID: 

Although deaths remain high, they are not the only indicator that matters. Long COVID remains a risk, as we have detailed in past weeks. 

This week, the White House and HHS released two reports, written without input from COVID-bereaved families nor people living with Long COVID, which highlight existing initiatives to deal with long-term impacts of the pandemic. 

Though these reports are flawed in many ways, we do want to celebrate the work of those who pushed for the establishment of an HHS Office of Long Covid Research and Practice, and highlight their responses to the news itself.

First, check out this thread by @itsbodypolitic President @AngelaMSWinCA: https://twitter.com/AngelaMSWinCA/status/1554922139391668224 

You can also read @MarkedbyCOVID’s response to the reports here: ​​https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Ev_mFMYhfTdBrBUZyYnuxNKvLkCf1OwZ9TAD61fplAQ/edit

One critical point made by @MarkedbyCOVID: “In the reports, the national research plan only uses the word “mask” four times and focuses on individual behavior only[…] Responding to a pandemic[…] requires systemic answers to systemic problems.” 

Increasing Pressure: 

The federal government is so committed to convincing people that the pandemic is over that they’d rather let thousands of us die or develop long COVID every week than issue meaningful guidance, reinstitute mask mandates, or bring back any form of pandemic financial assistance.

And yet, news outlets are reporting that the CDC is expected to ease testing, quarantines, and distancing guidance in schools, all but ensuring that children will get and spread COVID when schools reopen this fall.

We will keep you posted about the details of this guidance when it is released. In the meantime, join us in objecting to this by calling the White House Switchboard and asking for Chief of Staff, Ron Klain 202-456-1414; you can also call the comments line at 202-456-1111.

Check out @AbromeEd to see that it absolutely does not have to be this way: https://twitter.com/AbromeEd/status/1545758673242411009

Other ways to engage this week: 

Follow @MandateMasksUS, find your local MaskMandate group, and get engaged in national and/or local masking advocacy – joining others to put pressure on national and local governments helps! 

Check out this letter drafted by @watermelonpunch to help you tell your representatives that mask requirements are necessary: https://teamshuman.substack.com/p/essential-services-need-mask-requirements.

Let’s keep each other safe, and continue placing  pressure on national, state, and local governments to do a better job of tackling this (and other!) pandemics. 

Sources – Check out the links throughout the report and see our website for more! https://peoplescdc.org

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