People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report

Published

The Weather 

We have updated the COVID transmission map visuals to better view the intensity of spread across the US. Since few counties have low or moderate transmission, we grouped those categories together. The CDC’s uninformative High level is split to show 3 levels of High transmission. 

Consistent with numbers since early June, almost all (99.8 percent) of the population is living in areas with substantial, high, or even higher COVID transmission.

This map and corresponding table show COVID community transmission in the US by county, with an updated legend. This map breaks out High into 3 categories: High, Very High, and Extremely High. Transmission is indicated via shades of fuschia, with the darkest shade  indicating areas of Extremely High transmission, and the palest shade representing Low to Moderate transmission. Text indicates that 99.8% of the US population lives in an area with substantial or higher COVID transmission level, which is also represented via the three darkest shades of fuschia covering most of the map itself. Only 3.44% of counties, representing 0.25% of the population, are experiencing Low to Moderate transmission. Most of the country is experiencing High transmission, at 47.23% of counties representing 50.78% of the population; followed by Very High transmission, at 28.9% of counties representing 40.83% of the population. The graphic is visualized by the People’s CDC and the data are from the CDC.

On Variants 

BA4/5 continue to dominate, making up 94 percent of cases nationally with BA4.6 making up the remaining 5 percent, and no new variants are rising.

A bar chart shows data for the weeks of 5/8/2022 through 8/13/2022 with levels for each viral lineage shown vertically. In mid-May, BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 were the dominant lineages, with only small amounts of BA.4 and BA.5 circulating. As time goes on, BA.4 and BA.5 quickly grow and BA.2.12.1 and BA.2 begin to shrink. By early July, BA.5 had become the dominant variant. As of 8/13/2022, BA.5 makes up the vast majority of cases at 88.9%, followed by BA.4.6 at 6.3%, and BA.4 at 4.3% of cases. The pattern of growth of BA.5 over the aforementioned time period appears to be exponential.

Researchers have developed a promising antibody treatment, SP1-77, that is able to neutralize all COVID variants to date.

The SP1-77 treatment may have broad applications for preventing & treating COVID in the future. Their next steps are to test in humans & to expand this technology commercially.

Wastewater Monitoring 

National wastewater data from @BiobotAnalytics show a continued decrease from last week. And yet, levels are now about the same as during the Delta surge.

A graph with overlapping lines indicating wastewater viral concentration in dark blue & daily clinical cases in light blue from January 2020 to August 2022. The x-axis is the date & the y-axis on the left states “Wastewater: Effective SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration, copies per mL, or milliliter, of sewage” and the y-axis on the right states “Clinical: daily new cases.” The clinical cases & daily average have fairly consistent peaks & valleys, though the lines are discrepant, with the wastewater levels consistently higher than the daily clinical cases, especially during surges. In this year to date, the wastewater line was at its lowest point in mid-March, at 107 copies per mL. From March onwards, it steadily climbed up. In June, it appeared fairly steady, starting at 732 and ending at 780 copies per mL. In July 2022, the viral concentrations spiked, with a high on July 20 at 1077 copies per mL. The latest data point indicates a viral concentration of 668 copies per ML as of August 17. Source: “Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc.; Clinical data from USAFacts.”
A line graph shows the concentration of COVID virus in wastewater in four regions of the US: the west, which includes Alaska and Hawaii on this map, northeast, south, and west, from early 2020 to August 2022. Levels in all regions are decreasing, with levels ranging from 655 copies per milliliter of sewage in the south to 808 copies per milliliter of sewage in the midwest as of August 17. Data from Biobot Analytics.

Hospitalizations 

Hospitalizations are down 6.1 percent from last week’s 7-day average. The 7-day average from August 10th to August 16th is 5,690 hospitalizations, with about 1.7 new admissions per 100,000 across all age groups.

Given the CDC’s latest guidelines that further undermine COVID measures, as we discussed in last week’s report, we will likely see hospitalizations uptick again.

A line chart with “New Admissions of Patients with Confirmed COVID-19, United States,” 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 graph includes 8 separate lines, with one indicating hospitalizations for all age ranges, and the remaining 7 broken down into different age groups. The 70+ age group consistently has much higher hospitalizations than other ages, especially during peaks. Since April 2022, the 70+ disparity has been greatly increasing, and July and August continues this exponential trend.

A study found that over 1 in 4 children hospitalized with acute COVID or multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) experienced persistent symptoms for at least 2 months.

Deaths 

From August 11th to August 17th, 2,760 people died of COVID nationally

The trend of death counts has been steady since April, when the nation began to recover from the wave of death from the late 2021-early 2022 Omicron BA.1 surge. This is consistent with the country consistently loosening COVID protections as if the pandemic were over.

A line chart titled, “Daily Trends in Number of COVID-19 Deaths in the United States Reported to CDC.” “Daily Deaths” is on its y-axis, ranging from 0 to 4,000 deaths, and dates from January 23, 2020 to August 18, 2022 are on its x-axis. Text at the bottom reads, “the blue bars show daily deaths. The red line is the 7-day moving average of deaths.” The red line shows peaks in April 2020, August 2020, January 2021, September 2021, and February 2022. The lowest valley is in July 2021, with a 7-day moving average of 215 deaths reported on July 8, 2021. The chart indicates that we’ve seen a 7-day moving average of 300 to 400 deaths since early June 2022, in a trend that appears to have plateaued.

On Long COVID 

Strategies for High Impact and its Network for Long COVID Justice kindly urge you to share enrollment information (also available in Spanish).

The Network for Long COVID Justice is the only clinical study in the US dedicated to understanding the long term effects of COVID in People Living with HIV (PLHIV)!

Initial studies have suggested that PLHIV may be at higher risk of developing Long COVID, even after mild or asymptomatic COVID. It is crucial for us to learn more about the post-COVID experiences of PLHIV.  

A large study of 1.5 million COVID patients found an increased risk of psychotic disorder, cognitive deficit, dementia, and epilepsy or seizures at 2 years post-infection, suggesting COVID has a significant and lasting impact on the brain. 

Forecast 

On a hopeful note, Drs. Patricia Neves & Ana Paula Ano Bom from Brazil invented a different kind of mRNA vaccine. This new design is self-amplifying; only a small dose is enough to teach the body to replicate the RNA. 

This new design was necessary because Moderna and Pfizer refused to share their formulations.

The new formula makes the vaccine cheaper to produce, much needed for many countries in the Global South. Their team is on track for Phase I of clinical trials. They aim to mass produce this drug in about 1.5 years for the world, using a not-for-profit model. Kudos to them!

In the US, given the lifting of COVID measures while most of the country experiences substantial or high transmission, COVID cases will rise.

COVID will continue to disrupt many lives due to infection & Long COVID, which is so common it’s been referred to as “an epidemic within a pandemic.” 

Be Prepared & Take Action

The FDA has issued new guidance on reducing the possibility of false negative results from at-home antigen testing.

After an exposure, those who are asymptomatic should do at least 3 tests, each 48 hours apart, and those who are symptomatic should do at least 2 tests, also 48 hours apart, to reduce the risk of false negatives.

Stay tuned: This week on Instagram we’ll suggest scripts for calling on the White House to respond to the pandemic responsibly and equitably, which you can also send via Action Network.

We need to do everything we can to pressure the government to take public health seriously. 

Data Note: In this report, the numbers pulled from the CDC were current as of Aug 19, 2022. The CDC updates data frequently as it receives refreshed information from states and counties. The numbers you view today may be slightly different from the numbers from this report. 

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

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