People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report

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The Weather: For yet another week since early June, more than 99% of the population lives in areas with substantial or higher COVID transmission, with large portions of the southeast and Appalachia experiencing Extremely High transmission.

This map and table show COVID community transmission in the US by county, with High broken into 3 subcategories: High, Very High, and Extremely High. Transmission is indicated via shades of red, with the darkest shade indicating areas of Extremely High transmission, and the palest shade representing Low to Moderate transmission. Text indicates that 99.7 percent 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 red covering most of the map itself. Only 4.14 percent of counties, representing 0.33 percent of the population, are experiencing Low to Moderate transmission. Most of the country is experiencing High transmission, at 51.05 percent of counties representing 68.48 percent of the population; followed by Very High transmission, at 22.18 percent of counties representing 21.09 percent of the population. The graphic is visualized by the People’s CDC and the data are from the CDC.

On Variants: BA.5 remains the most prominent variant in the US, representing 88.6 percent of cases, followed by BA.4.6 at 8.4 percent.

A bar chart shows data for the weeks of 6/4/2022 through 9/3/2022 with levels for each viral lineage shown vertically. In late-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 9/3/2022, BA.5 makes up the vast majority of cases at 88.6 percent, followed by BA.4.6 at 8.4 percent. The pattern of growth of BA.5 over the aforementioned time period appears to be exponential.

Regionally, this breaks down to BA.5 dominating in all areas, but with BA.4.6 comprising a larger proportion of cases in the Midwest (18 percent in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, & Missouri), followed by about 11 percent in the southern and mid-Atlantic states.

A grayscale map of the US shows proportions of COVID variants in 10 regions. On top of each region are pie charts indicating different regions’ proportion of each variant. The charts show that BA.5, in dark teal, is the largest proportion of variants in all regions. BA.4.6, in dark blue, is the next most prominent variant in nearly all regions but most notably in Region 7, which represents Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. On the bottom right, text says "Regional proportions from specimens collected the week ending 9/3/2022. 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."

Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater data continue to show a downward trend since the BA.5 peak in mid-July. However, levels are still high. By region, wastewater data show declines in all areas. The West currently has the lowest levels overall at 436 copies per milliliter.

A line graph with overlapping lines indicates 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 wastewaters have corresponding peaks & valleys, though the wastewater levels are consistently higher than the daily clinical cases, especially during surges, and the discrepancy has persisted since late spring 2022. Currently, the wastewater line is about twice as high as the line representing cases (73,398). Source: “Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc.; Clinical data from USAFacts.”

Hospitalizations: While still elevated, hospitalizations are also declining. Rates are especially high for the 70+ age group.

A line chart representing new admissions of patients with confirmed COVID in the United States over time. The chart has “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, though actual dates range from August 2020 to August 2022. The dotted line represents new admissions of patients with confirmed COVID in the US over time across all age ranges. The line indicates peak hospitalizations occurred in January 2021, August 2021, and January 2022, with smaller peaks happening in April 2021 and July 2022. At its latest data point, the line indicates that hospitalizations are currently moving in a downward trend.

Deaths: From August 25th to August 31st, 2,902 people died of COVID nationally. Over 217,000 Americans have died from COVID so far in 2022.

On Long COVID: Referencing Long COVID (LC), WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan tweeted this past week, “We need to prepare for large increases in cardiovascular, neurological & mental health disorders in countries affected by #SARSCoV2 #pandemic.” 

Given the ongoing lie that “COVID no longer controls our lives,” we must reiterate that everyone can develop LC. The CDC itself acknowledges Long COVID among children even as it continues to loosen guidelines that could protect them in the first place.

In a new study, researchers found “that a reservoir of active virus persists in the body.” Read more about leading hypotheses on the causes of LC–including lingering virus in the body, microclots & faulty immune signaling here.

Despite being largely ignored by the leadership as a real threat, Long COVID research is ongoing and groups fighting for recognition, prevention, and treatment, are continuing their important work.

If you or a loved one has Long COVID, take a look at this #StopRestPace guide from The Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Action Network ( @MEActNet ), especially if your symptoms seem to be exacerbated by exertion.

Forecast: Great news! The FDA has authorized and the CDC has recommended updated COVID vaccine boosters, also known as bivalent boosters, that target the original strains as well as BA.4 & BA.5.

You can check when you’ll be eligible for an updated booster via this tool on the CDC’s website. Stat News has also summarized the latest guidance here.

Per the FDA’s fact sheet, these new bivalent boosters are provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the public, including the uninsured. Although, the administration has made clear that it plans to “transition to commercialization” in the near future.

Text explaining that the vaccine is provided through a federal program and are to be provided for free: “Vaccination providers may not charge any fee for the vaccine and may not charge the vaccine recipient any out-of-pocket charge for administration. However, vaccination providers may seek appropriate reimbursement from a program or plan that covers COVID-19 vaccine administration fees for the vaccine recipient (private insurance, Medicar, Medicaid, Health Resources & Services Administration [HRSA] COVID-19 Uninsured Program for non-insured recipients).” Violations are to be reported to HHS at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online at https://TIPS.HHS.GOV

We don’t end the crisis by stopping “funding for the very ‘tools’ the administration claimed allowed the US to end shelter-in-place & to reopen the economy.” The pandemic is far from over. We must demand more from the federal government

We need free N95 masks, free & easy access to PCR & rapid testing, mask mandates, funding & guidance for ventilation improvements, universal access to updated vaccines, support for Long COVID treatment & research, and universal healthcare for all.

An infographic with the title "What We Need From the Government:" listing 8 points: "1. Free & easy access to N95-grade masks 2. Free & easy access to PCR & rapid testing 3. Robust, universal, paid sick leave 4. Mask mandates in public places, including schools, public transport, & medical facilities 5. Federal funding & guidance for ventilation and filtration updates, coupled with meaningful regulation 6. Universal healthcare, including continued COVID treatment & testing for uninsured people 7. Updated vaccines & universal access to them globally 8. More long COVID funding & accelerated research"

Join us in demanding a better, more robust response to the ongoing pandemic. The private sector won’t save us. Individual responsibility alone won’t save us. The federal government needs to hear this: We know this is their fault, and we know they can do more.

COVID FAQ: We are starting this section to respond to frequently asked questions, paraphrased for de-identification & length. Note that this is general guidance; we do not have your full medical history or background. We are only sharing what we know based on the latest research.

Q: After testing positive for COVID, when is it safe to see people again? I don’t trust the 5-day recommendation, based on what I know from previous studies. 

A: You are correct. Starting Day 6 after symptom onset or initially testing positive, testing negative 2x via rapid tests, with at least 48 hours in between, is the best way to know when to safely end isolation. For more background, see this summary & thread

Here’s how to count days for isolation:  

Chart that reads: “When you have COVID-19, isolation is counted in days, as follows: If you had no symptoms, Day 0 is the day you were tested, Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested. If you develop symptoms within 10 days of when you were tested, the clock restarts at Day 0 on the day of symptoms onset. If you had symptoms, Day 0 of isulation is the day of symptoms onset, regardless of when you tested positive. Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started.

Q: I’m pregnant. I am wondering whether the omicron-specific booster is safe for me. I would also like recommendations on how to see people safely, especially as we head into the colder months this fall. 

A: Pregnant people & their fetuses are at increased risk of bad outcomes from COVID. The more layers you can use, the safer you can be, so perhaps use ventilation & air filters when you are indoors.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much data yet for the new booster regarding pregnancy–all the previous shots have been shown to be very effective & safe during pregnancy. We can recommend talking to your medical provider if you have one & following ACOG’s guidance.

Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 9/1. The CDC updates data frequently as it receives refreshed information. Today’s numbers may be slightly different from the data here.

2) Check out the links throughout & see our website for more! https://peoplescdc.org.

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