The Weather: Although transmission levels are not as high as during the recent surge, 78.71% of the population continues to live in areas of substantial or higher transmission. Layers of protection remain necessary to reduce infection.
On Variants: BA.5 continues to be the most commonly circulating variant at 62.2%, with BA.4.6 at 11.3%. Three other variants have gained ground with BQ.1 at 9.4%, BQ.1.1 at 7.2%, and BF.7 at 6.7%.
Wastewater Monitoring: National wastewater levels appear to have plateaued with slight decreases over the past week. As previously noted, unfortunately, these data demonstrate an ongoing undercount of official case counts.
All regions’ wastewater data show slow slight decreases over the past week.
Hospitalizations: Hospitalizations continue to decrease but at a slowing rate, and hospitalizations remain significantly higher for those 70+ compared to other age groups.
Deaths: The CDC is no longer reporting daily death counts and only provides new and historical data for weekly “trends” in COVID-19 deaths.
From October 12 to October 19, 2,566 people died of COVID nationally. This is the 15th week in a row that at least 2,500 people have died from COVID.
A new study of life expectancy finds that “the COVID-19 pandemic led to global increases in mortality.” The US “witnessed sustained and substantial life expectancy deficits” with the pandemic emphasizing the “pre-existing mid-life mortality crisis.”
On Long COVID: In an interview with the Guardian, Dr. Fauci talks about how the inability to test for Long COVID and the little understanding there is of its causes, interactions, and possible treatments or cures makes Long COVID particularly insidious.
Fauci also calls on the US government “to avoid complacency and resume funding to combat the virus as well as Long COVID” – an important message considering the disparities of Long COVID across demographics.
On Youth Impacts: COVID’s impact on students and the “learning loss” are not equal because of the 200,000+ children under 18 who have lost a caregiver to COVID, “Black and Latino kids lost their caregivers at nearly twice the rate of white kids.”
Featuring how one high school’s grief club supports students, NPR notes that “bereavement is the number one predictor of poor school outcomes, including poor grades, school dropout, truancy, lack of school connectedness and problems learning.”
Forecast: A new first booster from Novavax was approved by the CDC for people who received Pfizer, Moderna or J&J as their primary series. Novavax is a protein-based vaccine.
Because Novavax was not studied on newer variants, the most robust evidence currently available supports using bivalent (mRNA) vaccines. However, any vaccine is better than no vaccine.
A new CDC report found waning effectiveness of 3 dose mRNA vaccines against new variants. Effectiveness against BA.4/BA.5 dropped from 60%, during the initial 120 days after the third dose to 29% after 120 days from vaccination.
The report suggests updated bivalent boosters are important to maximize protection against BA.4/BA.5 lineages and to prevent hospitalization.
Experts are wary of the potential for “a swarm of viruses” — and a new evolutionary phase in the pandemic” this winter, rather than a single new variant, like Delta or Omicron.
They remind us that in addition to tracking hospitalizations and deaths, issues like work absences as a result of the ongoing pandemic “did have an impact on the world as a whole.”
Take Action: Support your local public school teachers unions’ demand for smaller class sizes, better building conditions, more student mental health resources, and higher pay for teachers and teacher assistants.
Masks remain a crucial tool in protecting ourselves and others, especially when used collectively. A recent study found that longer durations of state-issued interventions “may help reduce COVID-19 transmission, especially in communities with high levels of social vulnerability.”
Notes: 1) The numbers in this report were current as of 10/24. 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.