People’s CDC COVID-19 Weather Report


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.

Map and table show COVID community transmission levels in the US by county as of 10/20/22, showing Low to Moderate transmission levels in pale yellow, Substantial in orange, High in red, Very High in brown, and Extremely High in black. Text reads that 78.71 percent of the US population lives in an area with substantial or higher transmission. Most of the map’s counties are red; the northeast shows mostly High transmission; California and the Gulf Coast is mostly Low to Moderate; other regions are more variable. A Transmission Level table shows 0.64 percent of counties (0.12 percent by population) as Extremely High, 1.69 percent of the counties (0.69 percent by population) as Very High, 43.48 percent of counties (42.03 percent by population) as High, 25.91 percent of counties (35.87 percent by population) as Substantial, and 28.29 percent of counties (21.29 percent by population) as Low to Moderate. People’s CDC used data from the CDC to create the graphic.

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%.

A stacked bar chart shows data for the weeks ending 7/23/2022 through 10/22/2022 with weekly percentages for each viral lineage shown in vertical bars. The weeks 10/8/22 to 10/22/22 are Nowcast projections. For all weeks shown, BA5 (teal) is the dominant lineage making up the majority of each bar, growing from about 80 percent of cases to a peak in mid August of about 86 percent. Since then, it continues to recede, but at present is estimated to make up about 62.2 percent of cases. BA4.6 (blue) is next-most prominent, slowly increasing in share from about 3 percent on the week of 7/23 to about 11 percent on the week of 9/17 and constant since then. BQ1 (dark green) and BQ1.1 (gray) increase from barely-visible proportions in August to current estimates of 10 and 7 percent. BF7 (lime green) more slowly increases to 6 percent the current week. Even more slowly growing are BA2.75 (pink) and BA2.75.2 (maroon), currently estimated at 0.5 percent.
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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.

Title reads Covid-19 Wastewater Monitoring in the US. Top text says “this chart shows the SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration present in samples of wastewater taken from across the United States. The level of virus in wastewater is a leading indicator, meaning it precedes the change in clinical case counts or hospitalizations.” Graph shows weekly wastewater viral concentration and daily clinical cases for the last 6 months ending 10/17/22. Top blue line is viral concentration in copies per milliliter of sewage; bottom light blue line is clinical cases daily average and is more erratic and relatively plateaued. Bars in the same light blue color represent total clinical daily cases. Wastewater increases from 5/2022 to its peak in late 7/2022, then decreases with a smaller spike in 9/2022. In the last few weeks, there is a slight increase in wastewater concentration;currently decreasing. Bottom text reads Source: Wastewater data from Biobot Analytics, Inc; Clinical data from USAFacts.
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All regions’ wastewater data show slow slight decreases over the past week.

A line graph shows average weekly wastewater COVID viral concentration in four US regions. Above the chart is text that defines the time period as 6 months ending 10/17/22. Four different lines are shown representing the four regions and their viral concentration in copies per milliliter of sewage. Below the line chart is a region map showing the green line as West, purple as Midwest, red as South, and yellow as Northeast. Beginning in May 2022, Northeast has the highest viral concentration, Midwest second, South third, and West fourth. From May to October, Northeast has three major spikes and continues to increase, Midwest has one major spike and a recent dip, West has one major spike and a recent dip, and South has one major spike and a recent slight increase. The end of the graph shows Northeast with the highest at 1,159 and the three other regions at a lower level and closer together with Midwest at 545, West at 425, and South at 389. Data from Biobot Analytics.
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Hospitalizations: Hospitalizations continue to decrease but at a slowing rate, and hospitalizations remain significantly higher for those 70+ compared to other age groups.

A line chart representing new admissions of patients to hospitals with confirmed COVID in the United States by age group. The chart has New Admissions per 100,000 Population on its y axis and labels of January 2021 to July 2022 on its x axis; the plot extends past x labels with data ranging from August 2020 to October 2022. 8 lines represent different age ranges. Throughout the 2 years, the 70 and older age group (solid maroon line) has highest admission rate, followed by 60-69 years (pink dotted line), both of which have remained higher than the all ages average (purple dotted). All age ranges’ hospitalizations peak in January 2021 and January 2022, with smaller peaks happening in August 2021 and July 2022. January peaks are more extreme in the 70 year and older group. Most recently, all lines are stable or gradually decreasing. Despite decreasing trends, the 70 and older population has maintained a hospitalization rate at least three times that of other age groups since June 2022.
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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!

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